Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
The tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress exists to provide a remedy to an individual who is the victim of another’s extreme and outrageous conduct. There are four elements that a plaintiff must prove when asserting a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress.
(1) The defendant’s conduct was intentional or reckless
(2) The defendant’s conduct was extreme and outrageous
(3) The defendant’s conduct caused the emotional distress experienced by the plaintiff; and
(4) The plaintiff suffered from severe emotional distress
In order for the court to find conduct as intentional or reckless, it must determine that the defendant intended to cause the plaintiff distress and was certain or substantially certain that such distress would result from his conduct.
Conduct is considered extreme and outrageous when it goes beyond the bounds of decency. The court has described the necessary conduct as going “beyond all possible bounds of decency and…be regarded as atrocious, and utterly intolerable in a civilized community.” Valid claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress occur infrequently due to the high standard of proof that is required. Although each case must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, conduct such as threatening legal action, using insulting language and mere name calling have at times been rejected as insufficient to be a basis for liability under this tort.
Severe emotional distress is the kind of distress that inhibits the plaintiff’s ability to function day-to-day. It has been described by the Maryland Court of Appeals as more than “a reasonable man could be expected to endure.” Such distress may result in severe depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, headaches and illness.
In a successful claim for intentional infliction, the plaintiff can recover both compensatory and punitive damages.
It is important to note that there is no claim in Maryland for negligent infliction of emotional distress.
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The information contained on this page is provided as general information and does not constitute legal advice. The experienced attorneys at Baldwin, Briscoe & Steinmetz, P.C. can assist you if you are the victim of intentional infliction of emotional distress. We’d be happy to sit down with you and review your situation and provide appropriate advice. Call today for a no-obligation consultation.
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