finding that defendant's alleged statement threatening to kill the plaintiff was insufficient to support an IIED claim in part because "the statements were not made directly to plaintiff, but were made in a public meeting"Summary of this case from Sebastiani v. Lee
June 18, 1991
Appeal from the Supreme Court, New York County (Myriam J. Altman, J.).
This is an action apparently arising from a long-standing dispute between neighbors in an Eastside cooperative building regarding plaintiff's terrace gardens.
The fifth cause of action, as limited by the IAS court is based upon statements allegedly made by defendant Leventritt at a public meeting of the cooperative's shareholders that, if the court refused to dismiss plaintiff's lawsuit against her, she would have no alternative but to kill her. However, these statements, which were later reported to the then pregnant plaintiff who was not present at the meeting, were insufficient to support a cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress, liability for which is predicated "on the basis of extreme and outrageous conduct, which so transcends the bounds of decency as to be regarded as atrocious and intolerable in a civilized society". (Freihofer v Hearst Corp., 65 N.Y.2d 135, 143.)
A person may recover "only `where severe mental pain or anguish is inflicted through a deliberate and malicious campaign of harassment or intimidation' (Nader v General Motors Corp., 25 N.Y.2d 560, 569)." (Doe v American Broadcasting Cos., 152 A.D.2d 482, 483.) Not only is there no allegation or evidence of such a campaign, the statements were not made directly to plaintiff, but were made in a public meeting during discussions of then pending litigation. (See, Smukler v 12 Lofts Realty, 156 A.D.2d 161, 163; Martin v Citibank, 762 F.2d 212, 220.) Mere threats, annoyance or other petty oppressions, no matter how upsetting, are insufficient to constitute the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress. (Roth v El Al Israel Airlines, 709 F. Supp. 487, 490-491, quoting James v Saltsman, 99 A.D.2d 797, 798.)
Concur — Carro, J.P., Milonas, Rosenberger and Kupferman, JJ.