HARRIS V. JONES, Ct. of Appeals of MD, 1977. 380 A.2d 611

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HARRIS V. JONES, Ct. of Appeals of MD, 1977. 380 A.2d 611 Powered By Docstoc
HARRIS V. JONES, Ct. of Appeals of MD, 1977. 380 A.2d 611 History: Harris (26 year old, 8 year employee of GM) sued GM and one of its supervisory employees, Jones, in the Superior Court of Baltimore City; trial court denied defendants’ motions for directed verdicts; jury awarded Harris $3,500 compensatory damages and $15,000 punitive damages against Jones and GM Facts: Harris has a speech impediment and claims Jones continuously ridiculed him, intentionally inflicting emotional distress and GM ratified Jones’ conduct Issue(s): Is intentional infliction of emotional distress a viable tort in Maryland? Holding: Judgment affirmed; costs to be paid by appellant Analysis: No precedent for this kind of tort in MD; Courts in other jurisdictions have been moving towards recognizing intentionally inflicted emotional distress as a tort with valid action; court in Womack identified 4 elements which must coalesce to form liability for intentional infliction of emotional distress: 1.) conduct must be intentional or reckless, 2.) conduct must be extreme and outrageous, 3.) there must be a causal connection between the wrongful conduct and the emotional distress, and 4.) the emotional distress must be severe; Court says it is dangerous that everyone might bring suits and it needs to be distinguished between a true and a false claim and between the trifling annoyance and the serious wrong; court needs to determine if the defendant’s conduct could reasonably be regarded as extreme and outrageous and where “reasonably” may differ, it is for the jury to determine whether conduct was so extreme or outrageous to result in liability; Court concludes that Jones conduct did not constitute the “severe” emotional distress required to recover for the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress b/c Harris had existing problems and was already on meds and only saw Dr. once during the 6 months and had admitted that he was already nervous and had other problems w/other people; his treatment had not changed; Court says there wasn’t sufficient evidence to take this case to a jury Adoption of tort, but Plaintiff lost