Rice v. Ryders Health Management Inc.
Allegations that an employer wrongly encouraged other workers to bring false accusations may not be sufficient to prove extreme and outrageous conduct. In 1999, the defendant, Ryders Health Management Inc., hired the plaintiff, Julia Rice, to work as an occupational therapist. Allegedly, Rice became concerned that services to patients were insufficient, and she left and went to work for a competitor, Genesis Health Care, and proceeded to develop new and profitable services. In June 2007, the defendant began to recruit Rice, and they signed a five-year contract. Allegedly, the defendant encouraged other workers to falsely accuse the plaintiff of dishonest billing practices. In April 2010, the defendant discharged Rice, and she sued, alleging that the defendant was unjustly enriched, because she developed profitable services for the defendant, which benefitted it financially. The defendant moved to strike the unjust enrichment count and argued that the plaintiff was not permitted to allege both breach of contract and unjust enrichment. A plaintiff is allowed to allege breach of contract and, in the alternative, unjust enrichment. The court denied the defendant's motion to strike the unjust enrichment count. The defendant also moved to strike the plaintiff's intentional-infliction-of-emotional-distress count. To prevail on this count, a plaintiff must establish the defendant's conduct was extreme and outrageous. Conduct that is merely insulting or displays bad manners is insufficient. The plaintiff's complaint failed to adequately allege extreme and outrageous conduct, and the court granted the defendant's motion to strike. The defendant also moved to strike the plaintiff's negligent-infliction-of-emotional-distress count. A reasonable factfinder could conclude that the defendant's alleged conduct of encouraging workers to bring false charges that affected the plaintiff's reputation was unreasonable. The court denied the defendant's motion to strike.