Illinois Appellate Court Limits IIED Claim to Outrageous Conduct Against a Known and Present Plaintiff
By Paul V. Esposito
To state a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress, a victim must be known to a defendant and present to experience the outrageous conduct. Colunga v. Advocate Health and Hosps. Corp., 2023 IL App (1st) 211386 (5/19/23). A woman murdered a pregnant woman, cut the unborn baby from the mother’s womb, and pretended the baby was hers. The murderer and newborn were taken to the hospital, where medical personnel eventually discovered the ruse. The baby’s father sued them for consciously disregarding his emotional distress caused by letting the murderer make decisions about the baby when defendants knew she could not be the mother. The Court ruled that a victim’s presence is needed to prevent questionable recoveries where true indicia of intent and genuine harm are lacking. Lines must be drawn to prevent recoveries by excessive claimants. And inherent in the state of mind needed for actionable outrageous conduct is a defendant’s knowledge of the victim’s identity.