Protection from “outrageous conduct” litigation

New York County Family Court Judges
Protection from “outrageous conduct” litigation

As a matter of public policy, one spouse cannot recover damages against the other for intentional infliction of emotional distress,

  1. Xiao Yang Chen v Fischer, 6 NY3d 94, 810 NYS2d 96, 843 NE2d 723 (2005); The Appellate Division affirmed, agreeing that the action was barred because the tort claim could have been litigated with the divorce action and Chen did not expressly reserve the right to bring that claim when she withdrew her fault allegations for purposes of the stipulation. The Court extended the rule we set forth in Boronow v. Boronow, 71 N.Y.2d 284, 290, 525 N.Y.S.2d 179, 519 N.E.2d 1375 [1988]—that issues relating to marital property be decided with the matrimonial action—to interspousal tort actions. Specifically, the Court found that “[s]ocietal needs, logic, and the desirability of bringing spousal litigation to finality now compel us to … hold that an interspousal tort action seeking to recover damages for personal injuries commenced subsequent to, and separate from, an action for divorce is … barred by claim preclusion” (12 A.D.3d 43, 47, 783 N.Y.S.2d 394 [2004] ).2 We granted Chen leave to appeal and now reverse
  1. Weicker v Weicker, 22 NY2d 8, 290 NYS2d 732, 237 NE2d 876 (1968); Assuming that New York law now permits ‘recovery for the intentional inflicting of mental distress without proof of the breach of any duty other than the duty to refrain from inflicting it’ Halio v. Lurie, 15 A.D.2d 62, 66, 222 N.Y.S.2d 759, 763, see, also, Battalla v. State of New York, 10 N.Y.2d 237, 219 N.Y.S.2d 34, 176 N.E.2d 729; Ferrara v. Galluchio, 5 N.Y.2d 16, 21, 176 N.Y.S.2d 996, 999, 152 N.E.2d 249, 252, 71 A.L.R.2d 331), strong policy considerations militate against judicially applying these recent developments in this area of the law to the factual context of a dispute arising out of matrimonial differences.
  1. Sareen v Sareen, 51 AD3d 765, 858 NYS2d 285 (2d Dept 2008); The plaintiff’s claim that he asserted a cause of action sounding in intentional infliction of emotional distress is without merit. New York does not recognize a cause of action to recover damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress between spouses (see Xiao Yang Chen v. Fischer, 6 N.Y.3d 94, 100, n. 2, 810 N.Y.S.2d 96, 843 N.E.2d 723; Weicker v. Weicker, 22 N.Y.2d 8, 290 N.Y.S.2d 732, 237 N.E.2d 876; Nacson v. Semmel, 292 A.D.2d 432, 738 N.Y.S.2d 888).
  1. Nacson v Semmel, 292 AD2d 432, 738 NYS2d 888 (2d Dept 2002). Strong public policy considerations militate against allowing recovery for intentional infliction of emotional distress when a claim arises out of the interpersonal relationships in a matrimonial context, as it does here

Other jurisdictions have held to the contrary, see e.g.,

  1. Davis v Bostick, 282 Or 667, 580 P2d 544 (1978);
  1. Massey v Massey, 867 SW2d 766 (Tex 1993);
  1. Henriksen v Cameron, 622 A2d 1135 (Me 1993);
  1. Simmons v Simmons, 773 P2d 602 (Colo App 1988);
  1. Koepke v Koepke, 52 Ohio App 3d 47, 556 NE2d 1198 (6th Dist Wood Co 1989);
  1. Hakkila v Hakkila, 112 NM 172, 1991-NMCA-029, 812 P2d 1320 (App 1991);
  1. Lusby v Lusby, 283 Md 334, 390 A2d 77 (1978)