SLOCUM v. FOOD FAIR STORES OF FLORIDA

Facts

Plaintiff Slocum was told that by the Defendant, supermarket employee, that he would not tell her the price of an item because she “fucking smelled” so horrendously. Plaintiff brings suit of intentional infliction of emotional distress by way of an insulting phrase, for damages relating to a subsequent heart attack and worsening of a previous condition, along with the damages relating to emotional distress.

Procedural History

Failure on the plaintiff’s to state a cause of tortious action in the trial court, affirmed on the appellate level.

Issue

Does an assertion of disturbing emotional equanimity state an independent cause of action in tort?

Holding

The court affirms the decisions of the lower courts because they do not see the employee’s statement as “conduct exceeding all bounds which could be tolerated by society, of a nature especially calculated to cause mental damage of a very serious kind.” The court holds that they do not see evidence that they should allow instances of mere vulgarity to be included in the above.

Rule

There is liability for intentional infliction of emotional distress when it consists of conduct exceeding all bounds which could be tolerated by society, of a nature especially calculated to cause mental damage of a very serious kind.

Policy Arguments

Conduct must exceed all bounds which could be tolerated by society and has to cause severe emotional distress. (The best way to prove emotional distress is with medical issues and doctors’ bills.)

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