Torts I, Pages 58–60

Slocum v. Food Fair Stores of Florida

Supreme Court of Florida, 1958


Plaintiff asked defendant's employee for help in finding the price of an item. The employee told her, "[Y]ou'll have to find out the best way you can . . . you stink to me." This aggravated plaintiff's pre-existing heart condition and caused her to have a heart attack.

Procedural History:

Trial court dismissed for failure to state a claim.


[D]oes such an assertion of a deliberate disturbance of emotional equanimity state an independent cause of action in tort?


  • "Equanimity" means: "mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation"

  • Basically just whether defendant's employee's language was enough for intentional infliction of emotional distress.


  • Restatement § 46 makes a blanket provision for liability on the part of "one, who, without a privilege to do so, intentionally causes severe emotional distress to another." Intention exists "when the act is done for the purpose of causing the distress or with knowledge . . . that severe emotional distress is substantially certain to be produced by [such] conduct."

  • Page 59, Paragraph 2Language must be likely to cause "severe emotional distress," not mere "emotional distress."

  • Conduct must be outrageous.


    The test is: Is it so severe that a person of ordinary sensibilities suffer intentional infliction of emotional distress?


While some extend intentional infliction of emotional distress to cover those with a correlative duty of courtesy, there's no reason to extend it to business invitees generally.


No, defendant's employee's language was not substantially certain to cause severe emotional distress. Affirmed.


Florida didn't recognize IIED.