What’s Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress?
Intentional infliction of emotional distress is a type of intentional tort. What’s a tort you ask? An intentional tort is a civil wrong, other than a breach of contract claim, for which the law has a remedy.
To be intentional, a person’s “subjective” intent must be proven. Intentional infliction of emotional distress is actually a misnomer because a reckless act that leads to emotional distress is actually recoverable.
Anyway, what do you need to prove to recover for an intentional infliction of emotional distress?
1. Outrageous conduct: this is conduct that exceeds all bounds of decency in a civilized society.
2. Severe distress: this is distress that’s easier proven when there’s a manifestation of it. For example, someone having a heart attack or miscarriage as a result of the stress induced by someone else’s outrageous conduct.
Here’s an example of an intentional infliction of emotional distress claim:
Becky is eight months pregnant with twins. She’s on her way to the doctor’s office when she’s approached by a strange man wearing a ski mask. She didn’t realize the masked man was just her neighbor, Paul, staging a pretend robbery. Paul threatens to kill Becky if she doesn’t get inside and cooperate.
Becky cooperates out of fear and Paul drives her up the street. Becky thought she and her twins were going to die. Finally, Paul takes off the ski mask and starts laughing. He says, “I was only kidding, Becky.” Becky has a miscarriage as a result of the act.
That’s an intentional infliction of emotional distress because even though Paul did not intend to cause a miscarriage, he intended to scare Becky and had the requisite intent to commit the tort. Paul’s action would be considered outrageous by the reasonable prudent person in a civilized society and therefore he is liable.
Goodwin & Scieszka has been handling Michigan tort law claims for over 30 years. If you’ve been injured as a result of someone else’s negligent or reckless conduct, our Southfield, Michigan firm is here for you. We handle everything from:
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