Under Nevada law, intentional infliction of emotional distress occurs when a Nevada plaintiff suffers severe distress as the result of a defendant’s intentional and wrongful actions. This can give the plaintiff a cause of action to sue for money damages.
To be actionable, the defendant’s conduct must be extreme and outrageous.1 Indeed, intentional infliction of emotional distress is sometimes referred to as the “tort of outrage.”
Example: Mona has a live-in housekeeper, Dolores. Dolores works 16-hour days, often without a break. Mona can get physically and emotionally abusive when she thinks Dolores isn’t working hard enough. Her abuse includes slapping Dolores and sometimes even hitting her with a mop or broom. Dolores finally has enough. She hires a Las Vegas injury attorney to sue Mona for violating
Nevada’s assault and battery laws and for intentionally inflicting emotional distress on Dolores.
To help you better understand Nevada’s law on the intentional infliction of emotional distress (“IIED”), our Las Vegas personal injury lawyers discuss, below:
- 1. The elements of a Nevada claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress
- 2. Who can recover for intentional infliction of emotional distress in Nevada?
- 3. What constitutes “extreme and outrageous” conduct?
- 4. When is emotional distress considered “severe” in Nevada?
- 5. Damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress
You may also wish to review our related page on Nevada’s law on the negligent infliction of emotional distress.
In Nevada, the elements for intentional infliction of emotional distress are:
- The defendant engaged in extreme and outrageous conduct;
- The defendant intended to cause, or acted with a reckless disregard for causing, emotional distress; and
- As a proximate result of such conduct, the plaintiff suffered severe or extreme emotional distress.2
In Nevada, intentional infliction of emotional distress is most often alleged along with another cause of action, such as:
- A Nevada civil action for sexual assault,
- Sexual harassment or other workplace wrongs,
- A violation of Nevada’s domestic violence laws, or
- Actions under Nevada’s fraud laws.
To prevail on an intentional infliction of emotional distress claim, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant acted intentionally, or with a reckless disregard for causing emotional distress.3 Additionally, the defendant’s conduct must be “extreme and outrageous.”
Extreme and outrageous conduct is that which is “outside all possible bounds of decency” and is regarded as “utterly intolerable in a civilized community.”4 It generally does not extend to mere insults, indignities, threats, annoyances, petty oppressions, or other “trivialities.”5
The extreme and outrageous character of the conduct may arise from (without limitation):
- An abuse by the defendant of a position,
- Unwelcome sexual advances,
- Inappropriate physical touching,
- Workplace retaliation, or
- The defendant’s knowledge that the plaintiff is peculiarly susceptible to emotional distress by reason of some physical or mental condition.6
In general, stress and insomnia alone are insufficient to sustain a cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress.7
Where the plaintiff suffers a large quantity and variety of symptoms – particularly if the plaintiff seeks treatment for them – a recovery is more likely.
Example: Nancy is subjected to sexual harassment in the Las Vegas casino where she works. Her boss makes unwanted sexual advances, touches her inappropriately, and constantly threatens to fire her if she says anything. Nancy experiences sleeplessness, irritability, stress and depression and seeks the treatment of a mental health professional who diagnoses her with
PTSD and prescribes medication. Nonetheless Nancy begins suffering severe anxiety attacks.
Nancy has presented sufficient evidence of more than “mere physical or emotional discomfort.” A jury finds that her emotional distress is severe and her boss’ actions were outrageous. Her employer is held liable for damages under
respondeat superior, Nevada’s law on the vicarious liability of an employer.
There is no set rule for how much a plaintiff can recover for intentional infliction of emotional distress in Nevada.
Often, claims for IIED are made as part of a claim involving another tort – such as sexual harassment, assault and battery, fraud, or a particularly damaging violation of Nevada’s civil law against defamation.
Also see our article about lawsuits by rape victims in Nevada.
- Star v. Rabello, 97 Nev. 124, 625 P.2d 90 (1981).
- Shoen v. Amerco, Inc. 896 P.2d 469 (1995); Jordan v. State Dep’t of Motor Vehicles 110 P.3d 30 (2005).
- Maduike v. Agency Rent-A-Car, 114 Nev. 1, 953 P.2d 24 (1998).
- Candelore v. Clark County Sanitation Dist., 752 F. Supp. 956 (1990).
- Same. See also Switzer v. Rivera, 174 F. Supp.2d 1097 (2001).
- See Chowdhry v. NLVH, Inc., 109 Nev. 478, 851 P.2d 459 (1993).
- Facts based on Switzer, endnote 7.