Torts I, Pages 53–56

State Rubbish Collectors Ass'n v. Siliznoff

Supreme Court of California, 1952

Facts:

Defendant collected trash from the territory of another of plaintiff's member's territory. Plaintiff's inspector told defendant to make arrangements that night or they would "physically beat [defendant] up first, cut up the truck tires or burn the truck, or otherwise put [defendant] out of business completely." Defendant attended the meeting that night and, after protesting for two hours that he could not afford to agree to pay to collect from the business, agreed to join plaintiffs and pay. Defendant became ill and vomited several times and had to remain away form work for a period of several days. Plaintiff then sued for not paying to collect trash on their territory. Defendant counterclaims for assault.

Procedural History:

Jury returned a verdict for defendant on the original complaint and on the counterclaim, awarding $1,250 general and special damages and $4,000 punitive damages.

Issues:

  • Can an assault be present if the threatened harm is not immediate?

  • Does intentional infliction of emotional distress require physical damage?

Rule:

Page 55, Paragraph 5
Restatement of Torts § 46

One who, without a privilege to do so, intentionally causes severe emotional distress to another is liable (a) for such emotional distress, and (b) for bodily harm resulting from it.

Rule/Holding:

  • No, an assault must have apprehension of immediate battery.

  • Physical injury is not required for intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Judgment:

Affirmed.

Note:

Intentional infliction of emotional distress didn't exist in this jurisdiction. This case created it.

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