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Intentional infliction of emotional distress

Intentional infliction of emotional distress

The tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress is committed when one engages in extreme and outrageous conduct that is intended to cause, and does in fact cause, severe mental anguish and distress in a victim. What constitutes "outrageous" conduct is determined by deciding whether a reasonable person of "ordinary sensibilities" would feel extreme distress under the circumstances. If the perpetrator knows, however, that the victim is a highly sensitive person, the standard for determining outrageousness is lowered. In order to recover damages in this type of case, the plaintiff must show physical manifestations of distress or some other non-psychological damage (such as loss of wages).

Example: A man threatens that if you, a garbage collector, do not pay over part of your garbage collection proceeds to he and his henchmen, he will severely beat you. Since the man's conduct is extreme and outrageous, and since he has intended to cause you distress (which he has succeeded in doing), he is liable for infliction of mental distress.

The intent for this tort is a bit broader than for others. There are three possible types of intentions that are actionable: (1) the wrongdoer desires to cause you emotional distress; (2) the wrongdoer knows with substantial certainty that you will suffer emotional distress; or (3) the wrongdoer recklessly disregards the high probability that emotional distress will occur.

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