DeFlorio v. Terex Corp.
Allegations that a supervisor intentionally caused an employee to believe he was about to strike her with a motor vehicle and that she suffered post-traumatic stress, depression and anxiety, are sufficient to allege extreme and outrageous conduct. The plaintiff paralegal, Sharon DeFlorio, alleged the following facts, which have not been proven. In July 2010, DeFlorio allegedly was traveling in a motor vehicle on Interstate 95. Attorney Alex Sherman, her supervisor, was traveling in a separate motor vehicle. Allegedly, Sherman cut off the plaintiff in his motor vehicle. DeFlorio swerved and braked, to avoid a collision. Later that day, Sherman allegedly boasted that his motor vehicle was faster. In September 2010, Sherman allegedly backed up his motor vehicle, when DeFlorio was directly behind Sherman in a separate motor vehicle. DeFlorio was afraid that they would collide. At work, Sherman allegedly asked DeFlorio to perform unnecessary assignments and warned her not to file a complaint. DeFlorio allegedly suffered from post-traumatic stress, depression and anxiety. Although DeFlorio filed a complaint, human resources allegedly failed to investigate adequately. DeFlorio sued the defendant employer, alleging breach of contract. The employer moved to strike, arguing that DeFlorio was an at-will employee. DeFlorio's conclusory allegation that she possessed an employment contract was insufficient. The court granted the employer's motion to strike the breach-of-contract count. The employer also moved to strike DeFlorio's emotional-distress claim and argued that she did not allege extreme and outrageous conduct. Allegations that Sherman intentionally caused the plaintiff to believe he was about to strike her with a motor vehicle and that she suffered post-traumatic stress, depression and anxiety, were sufficient to allege extreme and outrageous conduct. The court denied the employer's motion to strike the intentional-infliction-of-emotional-distress claim. The court granted the employer's motion to strike the plaintiff's respondeat superior count. To find an employer is legally responsible for the intentional tort of an employer, pursuant to the doctrine of respondeat superior, a court must find that the employee acted within the scope of employment. The plaintiff failed to adequately allege that Sherman was acting within the scope of employment as an in-house attorney.