STATE RUBBISH COLLECTORS ASS’N v. SILIZNOFF

Supreme Court of California, 1952.

38 Cal.2d 330, 240 P.2d 282

Facts

Siliznoff (Plaintiff and then Defendant in appealed case) sought damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress by State Rubbish Collectors Association. They allegedly scared him so badly that he became physically ill, threatening his life and his livelihood.

Procedural History

Lower court ruled for Siliznoff.

Issue

At what point can emotional distress create liability for the party being accused of the action?

Arguments for Both Parties

Rubbish Collectors state that the threats that they made indicated of future actions rather than any actions that might cause immediate harm or imminent danger.

Holding

Judgment of the lower court is affirmed.

Rule

If the defendant intentionally subjected the Plaintiff to such distress and bodily harm resulted, the defendant would be liable for negligently causing the plaintiff bodily harm. Anyone, who is without privilege to do so in the eyes of the law, who causes emotional distress to another is liable for said emotional distress, and for the bodily harm resulting from it.

If one intentionally injures another to the extent that the emotional distress causes physical ill, said actor is liable for both the physical damages as well as the emotional ones.

Policy Arguments

The court holds this opinion because behavior that intentionally injures another emotionally is anti-social and thus also to be avoided. And by providing recovery for the worst emotional damage, it keeps people from crossing any sort of threshold for they understand it connects to said worst behavior.

 

It’s not assault and it’s not false imprisonment.

 

Independent trash collector takes over a route for a trash collector who previously had been a member of the Association. Association extorts new guy for member dues and literally scare the life out of him.

 

Courts are afraid of IIED because people do it everyday on purpose. And they are afraid that people will take advantage of the law and add a slew of cases.

 

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