An intention to cause severe emotional distress exists when the act is done for the purpose of causing the distress or with knowledge on the part of the actor that severe emotional distress is substantially certain to be produced by his conduct.
Appellant brought suit to recover damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress arising from witnessing the beating of her father by appellees. On demurrer, the court gave appellant opportunity to amend her pleadings, and upon her failure to amend, dismissed the claim. On review the court determined that California courts did allow recovery for the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Can an individual be held liable for intentional infliction of emotional distress, even if the individual did not act with the purpose of causing severe emotional distress?
The court found that in order to make a case for damages, the appellant was required to submit evidence demonstrating that the appellees acted with the purpose and intent to inflict sever emotional distress upon her. The court held that the appellant did not make any allegations that the appellees intended to inflict such distress or even knew that she was witnessing the assault. The court therefore affirmed the dismissal of appellant's claim.