South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Emotional Distress Requires Extreme and Outrageous Acts
Description Minnesota high court held that making false police reports, threatening litigation, and nasty arguments were not “extreme and outrageous” as required for a plaintiff to win a claim of emotional distress.
Topic Torts
Key Words Emotional Distress
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Langeslag worked at radio station KYMN for three years during which there was serious conflict with other employees. She sued KYMN and her boss, Eddy, for sexual harassment, retaliation, and for violation of Minnesota’s whistle-blower statute. He counterclaimed for emotional distress. The jury held for Eddy and awarded him $535,000 damages for emotional distress. The appeals court affirmed. Langeslag appealed.
Decision

Reversed. “Intentional infliction of emotional distress consists of four distinct elements: (1) the conduct must be extreme and outrageous; (2) the conduct must be intentional or reckless; (3) it must cause emotional distress; and (4) the distress must be severe.” Eddy did not meet the burden of proof needed to establish this tort. Liability will not be based on “insults, indignities, threats, annoyances, petty oppressions, or other trivialities.” The actions committed by Langeslag, two false reports to the police about Eddy, threats of legal action, and loud workplace arguments do not rise to the level of extreme and outrageous. Eddy’s claims that the stress of these actions caused him to suffer physical side effects were insufficient to show that the conduct caused emotional distress since the medical record is negligible on that relationship.

Citation Langeslag v. KYMN Inc., --- N.W.2d --- (2003 WL 21665019, Sup. Ct., Minn., 2003)

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