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WPI14.03.04Outrage—Severe Emotional Distress—Definition

6 WAPRAC WPI 14.03.04Washington Practice Series TMWashington Pattern Jury Instructions--Civil

6 Wash. Prac., Wash. Pattern Jury Instr. Civ. WPI 14.03.04 (7th ed.)
Washington Practice Series TM
Washington Pattern Jury Instructions--Civil
July 2019 Update
Washington State Supreme Court Committee on Jury Instructions
Part II. Negligence—Risk—Misconduct—Proximate Cause
Chapter 14. Willful and Wanton Misconduct and Tort of Outrage
WPI 14.03.04 Outrage—Severe Emotional Distress—Definition
Severe emotional distress is emotional distress so extreme that no reasonable person could be expected to endure it. It must be reasonable and justified under the circumstances, not exaggerated and unreasonable, unless it results from a peculiar susceptibility of the plaintiff of which the defendant had knowledge. Mere annoyance, inconvenience, or the embarrassment that normally occurs in a confrontation between parties is not enough. A showing of bodily harm or objective symptoms is not necessary to prove severe emotional distress, although bodily harm or objective symptoms may be considered as evidence of severe emotional distress.
Use this instruction with WPI 14.03.01 (Outrage—Burden of Proof), to define what constitutes severe emotional distress.
This instruction is derived from Restatement (Second) of Torts § 46 comment j (1965), which was cited with approval by the court in Woodward v. Steele, 32 Wn.App. 152, 154–55, 646 P.2d 167 (1982). The court in Woodward held that the following instruction defining “severe emotional distress” was a correct statement of the law and was not a comment on the evidence, and that the trial court did not err in giving it:
“You are instructed that the plaintiff has the burden of proving severe emotional distress that is so extreme or so severe that no reasonable man could be expected to endure it.
The distress must be reasonable and justified under the circumstances, and there is no liability where the plaintiff has suffered exaggerated and unreasonable emotional distress, unless it results from a peculiar susceptibility to such distress of which the defendant has knowledge.”
Although resulting bodily harm would be an indication of severe emotional distress, a showing of bodily harm is not necessary to maintain an outrage claim. Reid v. Pierce County, 136 Wn.2d 195, 202, 961 P.2d 333 (1998); Restatement (Second) of Torts § 46 cmt. k (1965). Nor is a showing of objective symptomatology necessary. Kloepfel v. Bokor, 149 Wn.2d 192, 197, 66 P.3d 630 (2003); Brower v. Ackerley, 88 Wn.App. 87, 99–100, 943 P.2d 1141 (1997) (stating that the requirement of objective symptomatology belongs to the tort of negligent infliction of emotional distress and has not been incorporated into the tort of outrage).
[Current as of September 2018.]
End of Document