Torts Harris and Jones Names of Parties: (P) William Harris; (D) Robert Jones The Court: Court of Appeals Maryland Date: 1977 Cause of Action: Causing severe emotional distress Facts: The (P) suffers from a speech disorder. The (D) is the boss of the (P) and routinely, along with other employees, makes fun of the (P) stutter. On one occasion the boss not only imitated the stutter but made physical gestures to tease the (P). The (P) testified that his disorder worsened after the prior events as a result of the emotional distress from his boss. Differing Allegations (if any): Prior Procedural History: Jury awarded 3,500 in compensatory damages and 15,000 in punitive damages against Jones and GM. Rules: Outrageous Conduct Causing Severe Emotional Distress: One who by extreme and outrageous conduct intentionally or recklessly causes severe emotional distress to another is subject to liability for such emotional distress, and bodily harm to the other results form it for such bodily harm. Four elements of intentional infliction of emotional distress: 1) 2) 3) 4) conduct must be intentional or reckless The conduct must be extreme or outrageous There must be a casual connection between the wrongful conduct and the emotional distress The emotional distress must be severe Ex: liability does not extend to insults, threats, annoyances, or other trivialities. Issues: Is the (D) liable for a preexisting nervous conditioned? IS the (D) conduct such that it could be considered “outrageous and extreme”? Can the (D) conduct be held accountable for all conduct in the wrok environment that might have contributed to the (P) condition? Courts Decision: Judgment for the (D) Reasoning: the humiliation suffered was not as a matter of law so intense as to constitute the severe emotional distress required to recover for the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress.
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