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3.12-1  Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

Revised to January 1, 2008

There are four elements that must be established for a finding of intentional infliction of emotional distress:  1) that the defendant intended to inflict emotional distress, or that the defendant knew or should have known that emotional distress was the likely result of (his/her) conduct; 2) that the conduct was extreme and outrageous; 3) that the conduct was the cause of emotional distress experienced by the plaintiff; and 4) that the emotional distress sustained by the plaintiff was severe.

The defendant's liability for intentional infliction of emotional distress requires that you find that (his/her) conduct exceeded all bounds usually tolerated by decent society.  Liability can be found only where the defendant's conduct has been so outrageous in character, and so extreme in degree, as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency, and to be regarded as atrocious, and utterly intolerable in a civilized community. Generally, the case is one in which the recitation of the facts to an average member of the community would arouse (his/her) resentment against the actor, and lead (him/her) to exclaim, Outrageous!  Conduct on the part of the defendant that is merely insulting or displays bad manners or results in hurt feelings is insufficient to form the basis for liability based upon intentional infliction of emotional distress.

In order for the plaintiff to prevail on (his/her) claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress you must find that the plaintiff has proved all of the elements of intentional infliction of emotional distress.

If you find that the plaintiff has not proved all of the elements of intentional infliction of emotional distress, then you will return a defendant's verdict on this count.

Authority

Petyan v. Ellis, 200 Conn. 243, 253-54 (2003).

Notes

Whether a defendant's conduct is sufficient to satisfy the requirement that it be extreme and outrageous and whether the plaintiff's distress is sufficient to satisfy the requirement of severe emotional distress are initially questions for the court to determine.  Only where reasonable minds could differ do they become issues for the jury.  Bell v. Board of Education, 55 Conn. App. 400, 409-10 (1999).

The jury must also find that the injuries claimed by the plaintiff were proximately caused by the defendant's conduct, so the court must also charge on causation.
 


 

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