Boyles v. Kerr

855 S.W.2d 593 (Tex. 1993)



A pleading should contain a short statement of the cause of action sufficient to give fair notice of the claim involved. Tex. R. Civ. P. 47(a). In the absence of special exceptions, the petition should be construed liberally in favor of the pleader. A court should uphold the petition as to a cause of action that may be reasonably inferred from what is specifically stated, even if an element of the cause of action is not specifically alleged. 


Petitioner boyfriend covertly videotaped respondent girlfriend engaging in sexual intercourse with him. Petitioner shared the tape with 10 friends and gossip spread regarding the tape. When respondent learned of the tape, she allegedly suffered humiliation and severe emotional distress. Respondent filed an action against petitioner alleging intentional invasion of privacy, negligent invasion of privacy, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Before the case was submitted to the jury, however, respondent dropped all causes except negligent infliction of emotional distress. The jury returned a verdict for respondent. The court of appeals affirmed and petitioner applied for a writ of error. The supreme court reversed and held that there was no general duty not to negligently inflict emotional distress. However, the court remanded for a new trial under a different cause of action.


Does negligent infliction of emotional distress constitute an independent cause of action in Texas?




There was no duty on the part of petitioner boyfriend, and therefore, it was not a recognized action in Texas. The supreme court also overruled St. Elizabeth Hospital v. Garrard, 730 S.W.2d 649 (Tex. 1987) to the extent that it recognized an independent right to recover for negligently inflicted emotional distress. However, the supreme court held that its holding did not affect a claimant's right to recover mental anguish damages caused by defendant's breach of some other legal duty.

Click here to view the full text case and earn your Daily Research Points.