You are currently viewing Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

  • Post author:
  • Post category:News


DISCLAIMER: Altiorem Legal Services (hereinafter referred to as “Altiorem”) cannot and does not provide legal advice. Altiorem is not a law firm; Altiorem’s staff are not attorneys, cannot act as attorneys, and do not act as attorneys; and any information provided by Altiorem in this article or otherwise is not a substitute for legal advice from an attorney. The information contained in this article should not be construed as legal advice, as it is not intended to be legal advice; the information in this article is provided for educational purposes only. Again, none of the information provided in this article should be construed as legal advice, and one should not rely on or use the information contained in this article in one’s legal case.


The tort (wrongful act) of intentional infliction of emotional distress (hereinafter referred to as “IIED”) occurs when one acts abominably or outrageously with the intent to cause another to suffer severe emotional distress. An example of this could be one abominably issuing an outrageous threat of future harm upon another person.[1]

A prima facie[2] case of IIED includes the following factors:

  1. The tortfeasor (the person who committed the tort) acts;
  2. the tortfeasor’s act and conduct is outrageous;
  3. the tortfeasor acts for the purpose of causing the victim emotional distress so severe that it could be reasonably expected to adversely affect the victim’s mental health; and
  4. the tortfeasor’s conduct is the cause of such distress.[3]


The Plaintiff or complainant must prove the following elements in order to establish an IIED claim:

  1. The tortfeasor’s conduct must be outrageous or abominable;
  2. the tortfeasor must act intentionally or recklessly;
  3. there must be actual suffering of severe or extreme emotional distress on the part of the victim; and
  4. the tortfeasor’s conduct must be the actual and proximate cause of the severe emotional distress of Plaintiff.[4]

The “extreme and outrageous” actionable conduct must be “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.”[5]

The tortfeasor’s conduct must be more than malicious and intentional; liability does not extend to mere insults, indignities, threats, annoyances, or petty oppressions.[6] The court must determine whether an average member of the community, upon learning of the facts alleged by plaintiff, would exclaim “outrageous!”[7]

Here are a few examples of the types of stresses that a victim in an IIED claim may suffer, as well as circumstances that may help prove an IIED claim:

  1. Obtaining medical records to show treatment for stress, anxiety, and/or panic attacks;
  2. obtaining documents and the testimony of a counselor providing that the complainant went to counseling for stress and anxiety;
  3. documentation showing that the complainant missed work due to the emotional distress;
  4. evidence of weight loss or weight gain of the complainant;
  5. presenting a diary of the complainant’s emotional distress symptoms, such as the inability to sleep or forgetfulness;
  6. documentation showing the development of a substance abuse problem;
  7. presenting evidence of depression or other mental illnesses;
  8. presenting evidence of changes in blood pressure;
  9. presenting evidence of nervous system disorders if any; and
  10. presenting evidence of recurring panic attacks if any.

These are just a few examples of certain types of evidence to prove the complainant’s emotional distress. However, these examples are not necessarily required to establish the intentional infliction of emotional distress if the tortfeasor’s acts are sufficiently severe. To succeed in an IIED claim, the complainant must gather evidence of each element of the claim. The complainant must also show what harm they suffered, and are suffering, as a result of the tortfeasor’s conduct. While testifying of emotional distress is a good place to start, it is very important to use evidence to substantiate one’s testimony. Additionally, the complainant would need to show how much they deserve in damages and why they deserve it.


Below are examples of situations which may likely constitute the intentional infliction of emotional distress:

  1. The complainant’s supervisor calls complainant into the supervisor’s office to ask complainant out on a date. The complainant declines. Shortly after that, rumors start going around the workplace that the complainant slept with several different coworkers. The complainant discovers that it is the supervisor who started the rumors. In this case, the supervisor’s outrageous conduct reasonably led the complainant to suffer significant emotional distress, intentionally inflicted by the supervisor.
  2. It is not a big secret that the complainant has a severe snake phobia. In this scenario, one of the complainant’s coworkers traps several snakes and sets them loose in the complainant’s office. The coworker thinks that it is funny and starts laughing. However, even though the complainant did not suffer any bites or significant physical injuries, the complainant is severely emotionally damaged by the ordeal due to their severe phobia. The complainant is not merely stressed by this ordeal—they are traumatized and subsequently suffer severe anxiety; true emotional damage occurred.
  3. A neighbor leaves notes on the complainant’s door that people of the complainant’s gender or race are not welcome in the neighborhood. The letters threaten physical harm if the complainant continues to live in the neighborhood. Then, the tortfeasor damages property on the complainant’s lawn. Furthermore, the tortfeasor encourages others to ostracize the complainant, too. As a result, the complainant suffers panic attacks.
  4. Someone rushes into the complainant’s office. They tell the complainant that their spouse has just been killed in a car accident. However, this is not true; the tortfeasor was playing a prank. The complaint is, as a result, severely emotionally distressed and damaged by this ordeal.
  5. A loan shark threatens serious, physical harm to the complainant or the complainant’s’ family. As a result, the complainant develops significant anxiety and trouble sleeping.


If the complainant gives consent to the tortfeasor to engage in outrageous conduct, then courts will likely not consider the conduct to constitute IIED because the consent given negates a prima facie[8] claim.

Further, context matters as well. If the outrageous conduct is done in a situation in which it may be deemed normal or appropriate, then a prima facie[9] claim of IIED would be likely negated.[10]


Please click here to see a sample complaint in an intentional infliction of emotional distress claim filed with the federal court. Reading this sample document will help orient and instruct you as to IIED claims.


Are you in need of affordable, top-quality legal services from a paralegal? Let Altiorem Legal Services help you today! We are knowledgeable, skilled, and experienced in drafting all manner of legal documents, pleadings, motions, memoranda, letters, etc. If you need a top-quality, professional, well-written, well researched, and compelling legal document drafted, then let us help you today! We go above and beyond the average legal industry writing quality in Utah; we produce top-quality, properly written legal documents with impeccable grammar, punctuation, spelling, structure, flow, information, compelling legal arguments, and persuasive legal conclusions.

Our team of paralegals are highly experienced in working with attorneys, other paralegals, and even court personnel. We are happy to receive documents via email from you, speak with you on the phone, look through court files, or even translate documents (English / Spanish)!

The legal system can be dauting and confusing. Let Altiorem Legal Services relieve the stress.

Altiorem Legal Services has a team of paralegals ready to work for you. We want to give you the best chance at getting an outcome for your case that you will be happy with.

Need more proof of the quality of our work? Check out our Work Samples page to peruse and evaluate our writing!

If you are interested in retaining our services, we can be contacted at (801) 855-6541 (text or call) and at If you have a project in mind that you would like us to work on, please click here to send us a project request and get a quote; alternatively, you can send us an email detailing the work you need performed, and a real person will respond promptly.

[1] See
[2] I.e., accepted as correct until proved otherwise.
[3] Supra footnote 1.
[4] Restatement (Second) of Torts §46.
[5] See id.
[6] See Viehweg v. Vic Tanny Intern. of Missouri, Inc., 732 S.W.2d 212, 213 (Mo.App.1987).
[7] See id.
[8] Supra footnote 2.
[9] Id.
[10] See