Law School Case Brief
Strauss v. Cilek - 418 N.W.2d 378 (Iowa Ct. App. 1987)
The elements of the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress are as follows: (1) Outrageous conduct by the defendant; (2) The defendant's intention of causing, or reckless disregard of the probability of causing emotional distress; (3) The plaintiff's suffering severe or extreme emotional distress; and (4) Actual and proximate causation of the emotional distress by the defendant's outrageous conduct.
Defendant's affair with plaintiff's wife lasted one year. Plaintiff did not learn about the affair until after it was over. Plaintiff and his wife were in the process of obtaining a divorce at the time plaintiff initiated the present action for actual and punitive damages for emotional distress that he allegedly experienced from the defendant’s romantic and sexual relationship with plaintiff’s wife. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, which was denied by the trial court; the denial was done without ruling as a matter of law that defendant’s actions were not outrageous. The defendant challenged the trial court’s decision.
Was defendant entitled to summary judgment dismissing plaintiff husband's claim of emotional distress?
The Court noted that one of the elements of the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress was the outrageous conduct by the defendant. In the case at bar, the Court held that the evidence in the summary judgment record was insufficient to demonstrate a genuine issue of fact existed on the outrageous conduct element of the husband's claim. According to the Court, in order to be outrageous, the conduct must be so extreme in degree as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency to be regarded as atrocious and utterly intolerable in a civilized community, which was lacking here
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