Friday, May 6, 2011

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress in Pennsylvania

To prove a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress, the following elements must be established:

(1) the conduct must be extreme and outrageous;

(2) it must be intentional or reckless;

(3) it must cause emotional distress;

(4) that distress must be severe.

Hooten v. Penna. College of Optometry, 601 F.Supp. 1151, 1155 (E.D.Pa.1984)Restatement (Second) of Torts s. 46.

While Pennsylvania courts recognize a cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress, they have allowed recovery in only very egregious cases. See Papieves v. Kelly, 437 Pa. 373, 263 A.2d 118, (1970)(concealing child's death and withholding body from parents). But see D'Ambrosio v. Pennsylvania National Mutual Casualty Insurance Co., 494 Pa. 501, 431 A.2d 966 (1981)(insurance company's alleged bad faith failure to honor a claim does not rise to level of extreme or outrageous conduct); Forster v. Manchester, 410 Pa. 192, 189 A.2d 147 (1963) (not outrageous to follow an accident victim, conducting surveillance to determine the extent of the injury); Mullen v. Suchko, 279 Pa.Super. 499, 421 A.2d 310 (1980)(broken promise of financial support from lover not extreme and outrageous).

My next post will discuss some specific cases in Pennsylvania where intentional infliction of emotional distress was found and why such claims were denied in other cases.  From this I think we will see why, in certain cases, claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress will apply to instances of "sexting" with egregious consequences. And we'll also get a feel, generally, for the types of circumstances that are likely to open up this type of legal claim. Share this post :
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1 comment:

  1. This is quite a useful summary of PA case law relevant to the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress. The Papieves v. Kelly case is a good paradigm of the caliber of acts/behavior required for the state to positively recognize an instance of emotional distress. Given the examples you provided, how narrow and/or strict would you say PA is with respect to this tort (compared to other states)? On a related but comical note, I stumbled across this poor excuse for an allegation of emotional distress (via Gizmodo):"Man sues wikileaks for 150 million over emotional distress"