Can You Sue Someone For Being A Bully?
You can certainly sue someone who intentionally injures you, but these lawsuits are rare due in large part because no one carries Jerk Insurance. The lawsuits would have to be filed directly against the bully in those cases and any award would be extracted directly from their estate. In most cases, the best possible outcome is simply driving the bully into bankruptcy where they will be most uncomfortable. But what if the abuse is only verbal? What if the bully is just harassing you? What if the bully is trying to intimidate you? That’s where things become interesting.
The intentional infliction of emotional distress: A tort
Tort or civil law allows individuals to pursue lawsuits against those who intentionally inflict emotional distress on another person. However, it’s not as simple as showing that someone said something nasty to you. Instead, you must prove each of the following elements:
- The defendant’s conduct was intentional
- The defendant’s conduct was outrageous
- The conduct caused emotional distress
- The emotional distress was severe
There are a lot of qualifier words here such as “outrageous” and “severe”. The question then becomes: What kind of conduct qualifies as outrageous and what type of emotional distress is considered severe?
Outrageous conduct in emotional distress torts
For conduct to be outrageous, it cannot merely be criminal or tortious, it must be so upsetting that it offends the sensibilities of the community at large. In other words, the plaintiff cannot simply be very upset, and the conduct cannot merely be criminal.
To be sure, emotional distress torts can be riders on other claims, but to sue only for emotional distress damages the bar is beyond high.
One successful emotional distress tort was filed against an insurance agent who tried to bully a policyholder into signing away his compensation. He told a man, who was totally disabled, that he was no longer entitled to benefits under the policy. This man won an emotional distress complaint against the insurance agent.
Another case involved a Black employee being bullied by a white boss who called him the n-word and other racial epithets on a daily basis and then attempted to fabricate a stream of disciplinary actions against the employee that never happened. In this case, the circuit court ruled in favor of the plaintiff, but the decision was overturned on appeal. The abuse was deemed not to be outrageous enough, which is more of an indictment of American cultural values, but nonetheless shows what types of odds a claimant faces in these lawsuits.
The bottom line
The State of Florida makes it very difficult to sue only for emotional distress damages. As riders on another claim, they are much more successful.
Talk to a Tampa Personal Injury Lawyer Today
If you’ve been injured due to the negligence or abuse of another party, call the Tampa personal injury attorneys at The Matassini Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.