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Law School Case Brief

Behringer v. Behringer - 884 S.W.2d 839 (Tex. App. 1994)

Rule:

Emotional distress includes all highly unpleasant mental reactions, such as fright, humiliation, embarrassment, anger, worry, and nausea. The law intervenes only where the distress is so severe that no reasonable person should be expected to endure it. The intensity and duration of the distress are factors to be considered in determining its severity. Although severe distress must be proved, in many cases the extreme and outrageous character of the defendant's conduct is in itself important evidence that the distress existed. Whether severe emotional distress can be found is a question of law. Whether it existed in a particular case is a question of fact.

Facts:

Appellee husband brought an action of intentional infliction of emotional distress against Appellant wife pursuant to a divorce proceedings.  The trial court ruled against Appellant wife and on appeal, she complained that the lower court improperly rendered judgment for Appellee where the elements of the tort were not established.

Issue:

Does the ex-wife's conduct constitute intentional infliction of emotional distress?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The Court held that the evidence supports the trial court's finding that Appellee husband suffered severe emotional distress. The intensity and duration of the distress are factors to be considered in determining its severity. Although severe distress must be proved, in many cases the extreme and outrageous character of the defendant's conduct is in itself important evidence that the distress existed. After Appellant wife’s threats and actions, Appellee husband was in fear of his life every day, all the time.  The Court further overruled Appellant’s point of error because it was proven that Appellant wife intentionally and recklessly engaged in extreme and outrageous conduct that caused severe emotional distress.

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