Padwa v. Hadley

1999-NMCA-067, 127 N.M. 416, 981 P.2d 1234



By characterizing conduct as atrocious and utterly intolerable and beyond all possible bounds of decency, the threshold is set at the very highest level for conduct to be considered actionable under the tort of outrage. A free and democratic society must tolerate certain offensive conduct as well as some obnoxious or morally deviant behavior. Accordingly, the mere fact that an actor knows that his conduct is insulting, or will deeply hurt another's feelings is insufficient to establish liability.


Defendant Hadley have engaged in a pattern of intrusive and oftentimes sexual behavior with Plaintiff Padwa's wife, former wife, and former fiance, with the alleged intent to injure and cause severe emotional distress to Padwa. According to Padwa, Hadley’s sexual pursuit of the aforementioned women was Hadley's weapon of choice for attacking and hurting him and that Hadley was "highly effective" in doing so. Thereafter, Padwa filed a lawsuit against Hadley for intentional infliction of emotional distress and, alternatively, for prima facie tort. Pursuant to Rule 1-012(B)(6), the district court dismissed both claims for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, and Padwa appeals from that dismissal.


Did Padwa’s complaints fail to state a claim upon which relief may be granted?




The appellate court held that plaintiff did not state a claim for relief in tort under New Mexico law. The court ruled that defendant's participation in consensual sexual relations with adult women who had a past or present relationship with plaintiff was not extreme and outrageous as to permit plaintiff to recover for intentional infliction of emotional distress. The court affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff's complaint because it declined to extend the tort of outrage to situations involving the repeated pursuit of sexual relations between consenting adults. The court added that plaintiff did not state an independent claim for prima facie tort and could not alternatively plead prima facie tort where he failed to meet the stringent requirements of the tort of outrage.

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