Rabideau v. City of Racine

2001 WI 57, 243 Wis. 2d 486, 627 N.W.2d 795

 

RULE:

Four elements must be established for a plaintiff to maintain a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress. A plaintiff must demonstrate (1) that the defendant's conduct was intentioned to cause emotional distress; (2) that the defendant's conduct was extreme and outrageous; (3) that the defendant's conduct was a cause-in-fact of the plaintiff's emotional distress; and (4) that the plaintiff suffered an extreme disabling emotional response to the defendant's conduct.

FACTS:

A dog owner filed suit against the city and a city police officer to recover for the emotional distress that she suffered when she witnessed her dog being shot and killed by him. The trial court, however, granted of summary judgment for the city. On appeal, the dog owner contended that the trial court erred by granting summary judgment for the city on her claims of negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress and that her complaint encompassed a claim for damages for property loss. However, the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the trial court.

ISSUE:

Is a dog owner able to establish intentional infliction of emotional distress after witnessing a city employee killing her dog?

ANSWER:

No

CONCLUSION:

The supreme court affirmed in part and reversed in part the decision of the appellate court, remanding the case to the trial court for further proceedings. In order to maintain a claim of negligent infliction of emotional distress, the plaintiff had to be related to the victim as spouse, parent-child, grandparent-grandchild, or sibling. Also, while the law classified a dog as personal property, dog owner could not have maintained a claim for recovery for the emotional distress caused by negligent damage to her property. There was no evidence that the officer had acted with the intent to cause emotional distress to dog owner, such that summary judgment was properly granted for city on the claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress. Dog owner's complaint, liberally construed, encompassed a demand for damages for property loss.

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