Taylor v. Vallelunga

District Court of Appeal of California, 1959.

171 Cal.App.2d 107, 339 P2d 910.

Facts

A daughter, the Plaintiff is seeking damages for emotional suffering from watching a Defendant beat her father.

Procedural History

The trial court dismissed the case from a demurrer from the defendant stating that there was no cause of action.

Issue

Can a Plaintiff sue for damages of emotional distress if they witness something horrible?

Holding

Judgment affirmed for the Defendant because the essence of intentional infliction of emotional distress is on the intent of the party to cause that distress and as the defendant did not know that the plaintiff was present, the plaintiff does not have a cause for action in a recovery of damages.

Rule

An intention to cause severe emotional distress exists when the act is done for the purpose of causing the distress or with the knowledge that on the part of the actor that severe emotional distress is substantially certain to be produced.

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