The tort of intentional infliction of mental suffering is something personal injury lawyers consider as a possible claim when representing injury victims. The test to meet in obtaining a favourable outcome in such a claim is quite high but courts award damages for this tort in the right circumstances.
What is the tort of intentional infliction of mental suffering?
The tort of intentional infliction of mental suffering (sometimes called the tort of intentional infliction of mental distress) allows an individual to recover damages for severe emotional distress caused by another person who intentionally or recklessly inflicted emotional distress, usually by behaving in an extreme and outrageous way.
What is the legal test to meet to succeed in a claim for intentional infliction of mental suffering?
In 2014, the Ontario Court of Appeal (Boucher v Wal-Mart Canada Corp., 2014 ONCA 419) set out the elements of this tort. An injured person must show that the wrongdoer’s conduct was flagrant and outrageous; the conduct was calculated to harm the injury victim and the conduct caused the injury victim to suffer a visible and provable illness. This tort means that the injury victim must demonstrate a certain level of intent on the wrongdoer. In all cases, for the injury victim to establish intentional infliction of mental suffering, they must show that the wrongdoer intended to produce the kind of harm that occurred or knew that it was almost certain to occur (Piresferreira v. Ayotte, 2010 ONCA 384).
In Raposo v. Dasilva (2013), the Court set out the test this way: The three elements necessary to prove intentional infliction of mental suffering are:
- An act or statement by the defendant that is extreme, right flagrant or outrageous;
- The act or statement is calculated to produce harm; and
- The act or statement causes visible or provable harm.
Persistent verbal abuse and aggressive behaviour from one person to another has been found to justify a finding of intentional infliction of mental suffering. This is important to know as being subjected to constant and persistent abuse in a workplace environment can result in a finding that the employee suffered injury as a result of intentional infliction of mental suffering and in some cases, employers who do nothing to address the abuse in the work force can be held vicariously liable for the actions of their employees.
If you have been subjected to behaviour that is extreme, flagrant or outrageous and have been harmed in the result, we can help. Our consultations are free and we work on the basis of being paid only if you win your case.
Ottawa Injury Lawyers representing injury victims throughout Ontario.
Marc N. Quinn
Ottawa injury lawyer and mediator