Sacco v. High Country Independent Press, Inc.
271 Mont. 209, 896 P.2d 411 (1995)
Sacco quit her job at High Country. The company falsely
circulated a story that Sacco had stolen High Country property. They even
went so far as to file a police report with Officer Dighans. Sacco sued
everybody (including Dighans) for negligent infliction of emotional
The Trial Court found for the defendants on summary
judgment. Sacco appealed.
The traditional rule was that courts will not recognize a
cause of action for emotional distress except where the defendant
creates a risk of physical harm.
Under that rule, Sacco had no claim because no one ever threatened to physically harm her, they just ruined her reputation.
The Appellate Court reversed and remanded for a trial.
The Appellate Court found that a cause of action for
infliction of emotional distress will arise where serious or
severe emotional distress was the reasonably foreseeable
consequence of a person's negligent or intentional act or omission.
The Court noted that what is serious or severe is a question of fact for a jury to decide. So they remanded the case for trial.
In the case of Camper v. Minor (915 S.W.2d 437
(Tenn. 1996)), it was suggested that a serious or severe emotional
injury occurs where "a reasonable person, normally constituted, would be
unable to adequately cope with the mental stress engendered by the
circumstances of the case."