State Rubbish Collectors Assn. v. Siliznoff

Quick Facts

–          Where there is intentional infliction of emotional distress, the P need not prove physical injury – the P can still recover damages from mental suffering

  • Differs from assault – assault is an immediate threat – where threat of intentional emotional threat is a future threat.

Procedural History

– Siliznoff (Defendant) obtained $1,250 from which he paid State Rubbish Collectors Association (Plaintiff), and an additional $4,000 in punitive damages from being emotionally disturbed.


–          P (State Rubbish Collectors) vs. D (Siliznoff)

–          This case, primarily deals with the D’s counter-claim, that he suffered emotional distress, that lead to him throwing up, and then missing several days from work.

–          D collected trash from Acme Company, which the P regarded as within the territory as another member of the association named Abramoff.

–          The D was called before the association and ordered to pay over the collected money to Abramoff, as a result, he signed the notes over.

  • If he did not pay Abramoff, the P threatened, to beat up the D at the end of the night – D went to the meeting, was threatened, and because of his fear of being beat up, got very sick, and missed work because of it.

–          P’s argument

  • The threats made all related to action that might take place in the future, that no one threatened immediate physical harm to the D (basically saying that this is not an intentional tort, because it’s a future threat, versus immediate threat).
    • Court says – absence of any privilege, a person cannot intentionally subjecting someone to emotional mental suffering incident to serious threats to his physical well-being, whether or not the threats are made under such technical circumstances as to constitute a technical assault (intentional torts).


Is someone who causes extreme emotional distress to another liable fore damages, for both emotional, and foreseeable physical injuries?




One who w/out privilege to do so, intentionally causes sever emotional distress to another is liable (a) for such emotional distress, and (b) for bodily harm resulting therein.

Court reasoning

–          Mental distress could be so intense that it could, reasonably, be foreseen that illness or other bodily harm might result.

  • If the person intentionally subjects someone to such distress and bodily harm resulted, the person would be liable for negligently causing bodily harm.

–          The interest in freedom from severe emotional distress is regarded as of sufficient importance to require others to refrain from conduct intended to invade it, such conduct is tortuous.

–          Absence of a privilege, the actors conduct is anti-social, and serves no utility

–          Needs to be serious, intentional and unprivileged invasions of mental and emotional tranquility.

–          It is unfair, when someone suffers emotional distress, to not hold the actor liable, just because his threats failed to come to fruition.

Court fears

–          May open the flood gates, to where people who are intentionally inflicted with emotional distress are allowed to recover damages, when they are not physically injured.

  • Jury is better suited than a judge, to determine whether outrageous conduct results in mental distress than whether that distress in turn, results in physical injury.
    • However, it’s much harder to prove that physical injury resulted from the emotional distress, than it is to prove that emotional distress actually occurred.

In the present case, it is factually proven.

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