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There is a right to be free of emotional distress arising from conduct by another. Because the essence of the tort is the interference with this right and not whether any bodily harm results, the five-year statute of limitations applies.
Defendant, a former Boyd County Sheriff, allegedly harassed plaintiff wife. Plaintiff husband and wife filed an action seeking to recover for emotional distress caused by defendant's harassing behavior. Plaintiffs, however, filed their suit more than one year after the last alleged act of harassment. The trial court and the Court of Appeals dismissed the plaintiffs’ action. Plaintiffs sought review, contending that the trial court and the Court of Appeals erred in deciding that the one-year statute of limitations applied to their situation. According to the plaintiffs, the five-year limitation period of Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 413.120(7), for actions for an injury "not arising on contract and not otherwise enumerated," applied to their claim.
Did the five-year limitation period of Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 413.120(7) apply to the plaintiffs’ claim?
The court reversed after reviewing cases from other jurisdictions. The court recognized a cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress in Kentucky. The court acknowledged that there was a right to be free of emotional distress arising from the conduct by another. The court concluded that the conduct alleged was a deviation from all reasonable bounds of decency, was intolerable in a civilized community, and qualified as harassment intended to cause emotional distress. Because the essence of the tort was the interference with this right and not whether any bodily harm resulted, the five-year statute of limitations applied.