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Law School Case Brief

Twyman v. Twyman - 855 S.W.2d 619 (Tex. 1993)

Rule:

The elements of intentional infliction of emotional distress are: 1) the defendant acted intentionally or recklessly, 2) the conduct was extreme and outrageous, 3) the actions of the defendant caused the plaintiff emotional distress, and 4) the emotional distress suffered by the plaintiff was severe. Liability for outrageous conduct should be 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. Texas adopts the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress. 

Facts:

After the husband filed for divorce, the trial court dissolved the parties' marriage, divided the estate, awarded conservatorship of the children, ordered child support, and awarded the wife damages for negligent infliction of emotional distress caused by her husband's deviate sexual acts. The husband appealed, and the court of appeals affirmed the judgment. Petitioner husband filed an application for a writ of error from a judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Third District of Texas, which affirmed an award of negligent infliction of emotional distress to respondent wife in a divorce proceeding.

Issue:

Should the wife have been allowed to file a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress during a divorce proceeding?

Answer:

Yes

Conclusion:

The Supreme Court of Texas reversed the judgment, holding that Texas did not recognize the tort of negligent infliction of emotional distress. However, the court adopted the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress. Consequently, the court remanded the case for a new trial on intentional infliction of emotional distress because the case had proceeded on the theory of negligence. The court further held that there was no legal impediment to bringing a tort claim in a divorce action based on either negligence or an intentional act. Additionally, the court found that the trial court made a disproportionate property division based on the husband's cruel treatment and adultery and that it appeared that such an award allowed the wife a double recovery based on the same conduct.

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