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Twyman v. Twyman

Supreme Court of Texas

May 5, 1993, Delivered

NO. D-0184


 [*620] OPINION

In this case we decide whether a claim for infliction of emotional distress can be brought in a divorce proceeding. Because the judgment of the court of appeals is based on negligent infliction of emotional distress, and cannot be affirmed on that or any other basis, we reverse the judgment of that court and remand this cause for a new trial in the interest of justice. TEX. R. APP. P. 180. We deem a new trial appropriate because of our recent decision that no cause of action for negligent infliction of emotional distress exists in Texas. Today, however, we expressly adopt the tort of intentional [**2]  infliction of emotional distress, and hold that such a claim can be brought in a divorce proceeding.

Sheila and William Twyman married in 1969. Sheila filed for divorce in 1985. She later amended her divorce petition to add a general claim for emotional harm without specifying whether the claim was based on negligent or intentional infliction of emotional distress. In her amended petition, Sheila alleged that William "intentionally and cruelly" attempted to engage her in "deviate sexual acts." 1 Following a bench trial, the court rendered judgment dissolving the marriage, dividing the marital estate, awarding conservatorship of the children to Sheila, ordering William to pay child support, and awarding Sheila $ 15,000 plus interest for her claim for emotional distress. William appealed that portion of the judgment based on emotional distress, contending that interspousal tort immunity precluded Sheila's recovery for negligent  [*621]  infliction of emotional distress. The court of appeals affirmed the judgment, holding that Sheila could recover for William's negligent infliction of emotional distress. 790 S.W.2d 819.

 [**3]  While this case has been pending, we have refused to adopt the tort of negligent infliction of emotional distress. See Boyles v. Kerr,    S.W.2d    (Tex. 1993). Thus the judgment of the court of appeals cannot be affirmed. We consider, therefore, whether the court of appeals' judgment may be affirmed on alternative grounds. Because Sheila's pleadings alleging a general claim for emotional harm are broad enough to encompass a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress, we consider whether the trial court's judgment may be sustained on that legal theory.

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855 S.W.2d 619 *; 1993 Tex. LEXIS 59 **; 36 Tex. Sup. J. 827; 61 U.S.L.W. 2748




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Torts, Intentional Torts, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Elements, General Overview, Civil Procedure, Pleading & Practice, Joinder of Claims & Remedies, Family Law, Marital Termination & Spousal Support, Dissolution & Divorce, Defenses, Specific Immunities, Interspousal Immunity, Joinder of Claims, Judicial Officers, Judges, Discretionary Powers, Judgments, Preclusion of Judgments, Res Judicata, Family Relationships & Torts, Legal Ethics, Client Relations, Attorney Fees, Procedural Matters, Attorney-Client Relationships, Types of Damages, Costs & Attorney Fees, Contingent Fees, Statutory Availability, Property Distribution, Jury Trials, Jury Instructions, Estate, Gift & Trust Law, Estate Planning, Community Property, Remedies, Damages, Compensatory Damages, Classification, Personal Injury Awards, Property Rights, Characterization, Separate Property, Appeals, Remands, Governments, Courts, Judicial Precedent, Types of Negligence Actions, Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress