Today’s blog will concern the tort of Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (IIED) in Texas Courts civil proceedings and focusing especially on this tort as it relates to the Dallas Texas collection attorney. Defamation and wrongful discharge, have a different set of standards and are not addressed herein.

How do Texas Courts define Intention Infliction of Emotional Distress?

The Dallas Court of Appeals held in 2013, that actions for IIED are available when a person intentionally inflicts severe emotional distress in a manner so unusual that the victim has no other recognized theory of redress, also holding that such cases are rare. Hairston v. SMU 441 SW3d 327 (Tex. Civ. App- Dallas 2013, pet. denied). Also, see Hoffmann-La Roche v. Zeltwanger 144 SW3d 438 (Tex. 2004).

What are the legal ‘elements’ of IIED?

The elements of a cause of action for IIED proceedings are as follows:

  1. The Plaintiff is a ‘person’;
  2. The Defendant acted intentionally or recklessly;
  3. The emotional distress suffered by the Plaintiff was severe;
  4. Defendant’s conduct was extreme and outrageous;
  5. Defendant’s conduct proximately caused Plaintiff’s emotional distress;
  6. No alternative cause of action would provide a remedy for the severe emotional distress caused by the Defendant’s conduct.

The above elements were recited by the Texas Supreme Court in Kroger Tex. v. Subera 216 SW3d 788. There is no cause of action in Texas for ‘mere’ negligent IIED. The ‘Intentional’ element means that the Defendant either desires to cause t4he consequences or believes that they are substantially certain to result from its act. Toles v. Toles 45 SW3d 252 (Tex. App. – Dallas 2001, pet. denied).

Intent can be inferred from circumstances or the Defendant’s conduct, not only from their overt expressions because a Defendant will rarely admit that they knew the distress would result from his/her conduct. Morgan v. Anthony 27 SW3d 925 (Tex. 2000).

In Texas courts collection actions also regarding Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (IIED) Plaintiff may establish ‘reckless conduct’ should Defendant know or have reason to know of facts that create a high degree of risk of harm to another, and then deliberately acts in conscious disregard or with total indifference to that risk. Twyman v. Twyman 855 SW2d 619 (Tex. 1993). ‘Severe Emotional Distress’ includes painful emotional and mental reactions, such as embarrassment, fright, horror, grief, shame, humiliation or worry. Blanche v. First Nationwide 74 SW3d 444 ( Dallas – 2002).

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