Baker v. Atria Management Co. LLC
Allegations that employees of an assisted living facility separated the plaintiff wife from her husband, a resident at the facility, can be sufficient to allege intentional infliction of emotional distress. James Baker resided at Atria Darien, which provides an assisted living facility for senior citizens. Baker met the plaintiff, Lisa Whitnum, and they married. Whitnum sued Atria Management Co. and other defendants, alleging that they forcibly kept her away from her husband and that she suffered emotional distress as a result of the separation. The defendants moved to strike Whitnum's emotional-distress counts, for failure to state a claim. Allegations that the defendants forcibly separated a husband and wife are sufficient to allege extreme and outrageous conduct. "The allegations," wrote the court, "go far beyond mere bad manners and could be interpreted by a factfinder as going beyond the bounds of all decency." The court denied the defendants' motion to strike the plaintiff's intentional-infliction-of-emotional-distress count. The plaintiff's allegations also met the foreseeability requirement for negligent infliction of emotional distress, and the court denied the motion to strike that count. The plaintiff failed to adequately allege unreasonable intrusion on her right to seclusion. Making the plaintiff's picture available at the front desk of the assisted living facility, to permit a receptionist to identify the plaintiff, also did not violate the plaintiff's privacy rights. The plaintiff's slander count did not allege slander per se or any cognizable injury and damages. "Except in the case of slander per se," wrote the court, "damages are an essential element of a cause of action for slander." The court granted the defendants' motion to strike the plaintiff's slander count.