CACI No. 1603. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress - “Reckless Disregard” Defined

Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions (2020 edition)

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1603.Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress - “Reckless
Disregard” Defined
[Name of defendant] acted with reckless disregard in causing [name of
plaintiff] emotional distress if:
1. [Name of defendant] knew that emotional distress would probably
result from [his/her/nonbinary pronoun] conduct; or
2. [Name of defendant] gave little or no thought to the probable
effects of [his/her/nonbinary pronoun] conduct.
New September 2003
Sources and Authority
• “[I]t is not essential to liability that a trier of fact find a malicious or evil
purpose. It is enough that defendant ‘devoted little or no thought’ to probable
consequences of his conduct.” (KOVR-TV, Inc. v. Superior Court (1995) 31
Cal.App.4th 1023, 1031-1032 [37 Cal.Rptr.2d 431], internal citation omitted.)
• The requirement of reckless conduct is satisfied by a showing that the defendant
acted in reckless disregard of the probability that the plaintiff would suffer
emotional distress. (Little v. Stuyvesant Life Insurance Co. (1977) 67 Cal.App.3d
451, 462 [136 Cal.Rptr. 653]; Cervantez v. J.C. Penney Co. (1979) 24 Cal.3d
579, 593 [156 Cal.Rptr. 198, 595 P.2d 975].)
• “Where reckless disregard of the plaintiff’s interests is the theory of recovery, the
presence of the plaintiff at the time the outrageous conduct occurs is recognized
as the element establishing a higher degree of culpability which, in turn, justifies
recovery of greater damages by a broader group of plaintiffs than allowed on a
negligent infliction of emotional distress theory.” (Christensen v. Superior Court
(1991) 54 Cal.3d 868, 905 [2 Cal.Rptr.2d 79, 820 P.2d 181].)
Secondary Sources
5 Witkin, Summary of California Law (10th ed. 2005) Torts, §§ 451, 453
4 Levy et al., California Torts, Ch. 44, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress,
§ 44.01 (Matthew Bender)
32 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 362, Mental Suffering and
Emotional Distress, § 362.10[4] (Matthew Bender)
15 California Points and Authorities, Ch. 153, Mental Suffering and Emotional
Distress, § 153.21 (Matthew Bender)
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