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The invasion of any legally protected interest of another, including injury to a person, may be compensable under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A, § 9.
Defendant tenant rented an apartment, which was in deplorable condition, from the plaintiff landlord, and withheld a part of the rent until repairs were made. The plaintiff landlord did not comply with a housing court order to repair any defects, and the defendant tenant vacated the property. The plaintiff landlord filed a summary process action for nonpayment of rent against defendant tenant, who counterclaimed for, inter alia, intentional infliction of emotional distress and breach of warranty of habitability. The housing court awarded damages under Mass. Gen. Laws chs. 186, 93A for intentional infliction of emotional distress and the warranty of habitability. The plaintiff landlord argued that the denial of the recusal motion was erroneous, and emotional distress was not compensable.
Could a tenant recover damages for the intentional infliction of emotional distress committed by a landlord?
The court held that the denial of the landlord's recusal motion was proper because the housing court could act fairly and impartially. The court further held that the emotional distress and multiple damages were compensable under ch. 93A because emotional distress was a personal injury and not vicarious and pecuniary loss and physical injury were not required. According to the court, the landlord's threatening conduct was an intentional infliction of emotional distress because it was beyond bounds of human decency and caused emotional distress, which was severe.