Free Case Evaluation 800-683-5291

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

March 21, 2018

Winter Garden Attorneys

Intentional infliction of emotional distress is a type of harm that occurs when someone is injured by extreme and outrageous conduct.  It is a very difficult claim to prove, and it is many times frivolously alleged.  To succeed in a claim for intentional infliction of emotional in Winter Park, one must prove that the extreme and outrageous conduct caused severe emotional distress.  It must also show that the defendant’s conduct intended to cause, knew with substantial certainty it would cause, or it was highly probable to cause, and does cause severe emotional distress.  Extreme and outrageous behavior is something that is determined by the court, it is a question of law, not fact.  This claim also usually requires frequent or repetitious behavior.  Rarely will a single instance be enough to succeed.  Another common factor to successful claims is a power differential, the defendant is often a supervisor or someone in a position of authority of influence.

The Columbia Journalism Review recently reported on an interesting intentional infliction of emotional distress lawsuit.  You might recall the unfortunate death of a Democratic National Committee staffer named Seth Rich.  His homicide is still under investigation.  Recently, his parents filed a lawsuit against Fox News for pushing a false narrative that Rich was murdered because he was the source of a leak of emails to WikiLeaks.  In their complaint, they allege intentional infliction of emotional distress against the news network.  The complaint alleges that Fox News pushed a “sham story,” that they have since retracted.  According to the complaint, as explained in the article, the news network “laundered that theory through a wholly deficient story published on May 16, 2017, on Fox News’s website.”  The article goes on to say “the lawsuit is not a sure winner for the parents; it evokes emotional distress, historically a hard claim to win against the media.”  The parents allege that they have not been able to “com[e] to terms with his murder because they were repeatedly forced to relive it”; “symptoms consistent with a diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder … and [of] obsessive-compulsive behavior”; “feelings of anxiety…triggered by…stories in the media and by their feeling that they never know what is going to come next”; and, for Mary, “symptoms consistent with Social Anxiety Disorder.”  There are a variety of First Amendment issues that will inevitably surface in this suit.  But it demonstrates the type of claim that is often brought in a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Some jurisdictions follow a theory called the impact rule.  This rule requires the Winter Park plaintiff to prove that she has suffered a physical injury.  In other words, the severe emotional distress must manifest itself as a physical symptom.  Psychological trauma alone is not enough.  The reason for this rule is somewhat obvious.  It allows courts to more efficiently determine whether there has been an actual harm because intentional infliction of emotional distress can be such an amorphous claim.

If you or a loved one have been injured, contact the Winter Park personal injury attorneys at Bryan W. Crews.  Their expertise and decades of experience will be put to work for you.  Call today for a free evaluation of your claim.

© 2017 Bryan Crews & Associates
(800) 683-5291
The hiring of an attorney is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements. Before you decide, ask us to send you free written information about our qualifications and experience.