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Law School Case Brief

McGanty v. Staudenraus - 321 Or. 532, 901 P.2d 841 (1995)

Rule:

A claim for intentional infliction of severe emotional distress contains these elements: to state a claim for intentional infliction of severe emotional distress, a plaintiff must plead that (1) the defendant intended to inflict severe emotional distress on the plaintiff, (2) the defendant's acts were the cause of the plaintiff's severe emotional distress, and (3) the defendant's acts constituted an extraordinary transgression of the bounds of socially tolerable conduct.

Facts:

Jennifer McGanty, a former employee of the defendants, asserted that she was sexually harassed by defendant supervisor and brought a series of claims against defendants, former employer and supervisor. McGanty alleged that defendants had engaged in intentional interference with economic relations, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and wrongful discharge stemming from defendants' actions of sexual harassment. The lower court dismissed McGanty's claims.

Issue:

Did the lower court err in dismissing McGanty's claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress against her former employers?

Answer:

Yes

Conclusion:

The Supreme Court of Oregon affirmed in part and reversed in part the lower court's decision dismissing three of McGanty's claims. The court affirmed the decision dismissing McGanty's intentional interference with economic relations claim, finding that because defendant supervisor had acted as an agent of defendant former employer it could not have interfered with the labor contract. The court reversed the dismissal of McGanty's claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress, finding that defendant supervisor was only required to have acted with the knowledge that distress was certain to have resulted from his conduct for that claim to hold. A claim for intentional infliction of severe emotional distress contains these elements: to state a claim for intentional infliction of severe emotional distress, a plaintiff must plead that (1) the defendant intended to inflict severe emotional distress on the plaintiff, (2) the defendant's acts were the cause of the plaintiff's severe emotional distress, and (3) the defendant's acts constituted an extraordinary transgression of the bounds of socially tolerable conduct. Finally, the court reversed the dismissal of McGanty’s constructive discharge claim, finding that McGanty had stated the necessary components of such a claim: defendants' creation of intolerable working conditions, defendants' desire to cause McGanty to leave or knowledge that its conduct would cause such a response, and McGanty's decision to actually leave employment.

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