CACI No. 1604. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress - “Severe Emotional Distress” Defined

Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions (2020 edition)

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1604.Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress - “Severe
Emotional Distress” Defined
Emotional distress includes suffering, anguish, fright, horror,
nervousness, grief, anxiety, worry, shock, humiliation, and shame.
“Severe emotional distress” is not mild or brief; it must be so substantial
or long lasting that no reasonable person in a civilized society should be
expected to bear it. [Name of plaintiff] is not required to prove physical
injury to recover damages for severe emotional distress.
New September 2003
Sources and Authority
• “ ‘It is for the court to determine whether on the evidence severe emotional
distress can be found; it is for the jury to determine whether, on the evidence, it
has in fact existed.’ ” (Fletcher v. Western National Life Insurance Co. (1970) 10
Cal.App.3d 376, 397 [89 Cal.Rptr. 78], internal citation omitted.)
• “Emotional distress” includes any “highly unpleasant mental reactions, such as
fright, horror, grief, shame, humiliation, embarrassment, anger, chagrin,
disappointment, or worry.” (Fletcher, supra, 10 Cal.App.3d at p. 397.)
• “With respect to the requirement that the plaintiff show severe emotional
distress, this court has set a high bar. ‘Severe emotional distress means
“emotional distress of such substantial quality or enduring quality that no
reasonable [person] in civilized society should be expected to endure it.” ’ ”
(Hughes v. Pair (2009) 46 Cal.4th 1035, 1051 [95 Cal.Rptr.3d 636, 209 P.3d
• “ ‘One who has wrongfully and intentionally [suffered severe emotional distress]
may recover compensatory damages even though he or she has suffered no
physical injury,’ and ‘the right to compensation exists even though no monetary
loss has been sustained.’ ” (Grimes v. Carter (1966) 241 Cal.App.2d 694, 699
[50 Cal.Rptr. 808].)
Secondary Sources
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 (Matthew Bender)
15 California Points and Authorities, Ch. 153, Mental Suffering and Emotional
Distress, § 153.26 (Matthew Bender)
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