Threats Against Partner’s Ex Not Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

  • In a dispute among general partners, a single verbal threat against spouse of one of the partners does not create a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress.


Cases-of-Note-Partnerships-1024x536CHERYL E. CHAMBERS, J.P. SYLVIA O. HINDS-RADIX COLLEEN D. DUFFY ANGELA G. IANNACCI, JJ.

In August 2007, the plaintiff and the defendant allegedly entered into an oral agreement establishing a general partnership to own, manage, and maintain real estate and, in [*2]furtherance of that agreement, jointly held title to two properties in Port Chester.

In August 2016, the plaintiff commenced this action against the defendant, asserting five causes of action: (1) for enforcement of the alleged oral partnership agreement and for dissolution of the partnership; (2) for an accounting; (3) to recover damages for misappropriation of partnership funds; (4) to recover damages for unjust enrichment; and (5) to recover damages for conversion. The defendant joined issue, denying the existence of any partnership and asserting counterclaims, inter alia, to recover damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress.  […]

“The elements of intentional infliction of emotional distress are (1) extreme and outrageous conduct; (2) the intent to cause, or the disregard of a substantial likelihood of causing, severe emotional distress; (3) causation; and (4) severe emotional distress” (Klein v Metropolitan Child Servs., Inc., 100 AD3d 708, 710). In order to state a cause of action to recover damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress, the pleading must allege “conduct [that] has been 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” (Murphy v American Home Prods. Corp., 58 NY2d 293, 303 [internal quotation marks omitted]; see Benjamin v Assad, 186 AD3d 549, 550). While a deliberate and malicious campaign of harassment or intimidation may, under certain circumstances, be sufficient to meet that rigorous standard (see Eves v Ray, 42 AD3d 481), the conduct must consist of more than mere insults, threats, annoyances, or indignities (see Ajie Chen v Deliso, 169 AD3d 761; Leibowitz v Bank Leumi Trust Co. of N.Y., 152 AD2d 169, 182; Nestlerode v Federal Ins. Co., 66 AD2d 504).

Here, the defendant’s allegation that the plaintiff, on a single occasion on an unspecified date, made a verbal threat against the life of the defendant’s estranged husband, fails, as a matter of law, to allege conduct that is sufficiently extreme and outrageous as to meet the threshold requirements for intentional infliction of emotional distress (see Ajie Chen v Deliso, 169 AD3d at 762). Accordingly, the Supreme Court should have granted the plaintiff’s motion pursuant to CPLR 3211(a)(7) to dismiss the defendant’s counterclaim to recover damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress. […]

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