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Law School Case Brief

Gordon v. Frost - 193 Ga. App. 517, 388 S.E.2d 362 (1989)


The tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress is recognized in this state, where the defendant's actions were so terrifying or insulting as naturally to humiliate, embarrass, or frighten the plaintiff. Claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress have been upheld by this court when the threats on which those claims were based were outrageous and egregious. The conduct must be of such serious import as to naturally give rise to such intense feelings of humiliation, embarrassment, fright or extreme outrage as to cause severe emotional distress. Plaintiff's burden is a stringent one in order to prevail in such a cause of action. Some claims as a matter of law do not rise to the requisite level of outrageousness and egregiousness. Others raise circumstances which properly put the issue before a jury. Once the evidence shows that reasonable persons might find the presence of extreme or outrageous conduct, the jury must find the facts and make its own characterization.


Plaintiffs, customer and her husband filed an action for damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress, malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, negligence, and loss of consortium due to the arrest under the Controlled Substances Act, Ga. Code Ann. § 16-13-32.3 against defendants pharmacist and manager. The customer had a migraine and called the pharmacist for her codeine-based painkiller. She was subsequently arrested because the pharmacist thought she was trying to buy the controlled substance fraudulently. The trial court found for the plaintiffs with regard to intentional infliction. Defendants appealed.


Does evidence support the claim of plaintiffs that defendants inflicted emotional distress due to arrest of the customer wife?




The Court held that the jury had evidence to find that the relationship of trust between pharmacist and customer, the pharmacist's limited investigation, and the customer's actions and explanation supported intentional infliction.

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