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The basis for the tort of the intentional infliction of emotional distress in Louisiana is La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 2315 as illuminated by the following: it has not been enough that the defendant has acted with an intent which is tortuous or even criminal, or that he has intended to inflict emotional distress, or even that this conduct has been characterized by "malice" or a degree of aggravation which would entitle the plaintiff to punitive damages for another tort. Liability has been found only where the conduct has been so outrageous in character, and so extreme in degree, as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency, and to be regarded as atrocious, and utterly intolerable in a civilized community. Generally, the case is one in which the recitation of the facts to an average member of the community would arouse his resentment against the actor, and leave him to exclaim, "Outrageous!"
Plaintiff agent, Rodney Nicholas, was told that his production was not adequate and was put on review. Plaintiff did not meet goals set in three tiers of review, even though one review had been extended to compensate for defendant insurance company's manager's error. Though the manger recommended retention, plaintiff was terminated. Plaintiff learned of the manager's testimony, in another former agent's tort case, that defendant supervisor singled plaintiff out for termination. Plaintiff sued for La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 2315 intentional infliction of emotional distress and won large damages, which the appeal court reduced. Both sides sought certiorari.
Under the circumstances, was plaintiff entitled to receive damages for his claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress?
The Court reversed the lower courts’ judgments, and dismissed the plaintiff’s claims with prejudice. The Court noted that the trial court's jury instruction omitted reference to the requirement that defendants' conduct be outrageous and that plaintiff's distress be severe. Though defendant supervisor singled plaintiff out for review and was demeaning, plaintiff was only average, made work mistakes, the production standards were legitimate work goals, and defendant's conduct was not "outrageous."