North Carolina Appellate Court Upholds Dismissal of Negligent and Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress Claim

The North Carolina civil justice system allows individuals who suffered physical injuries due to someone else’s negligence to bring a claim for compensation. There are also causes of action that allow individuals to recover compensation from individuals who cause negligent or intentional emotional distress. Because this injury is not as clear as a physical injury like a broken bone, these claims can be more difficult to prove. At Maurer Law, our seasoned team of personal injury attorneys is prepared to help you evaluate your potential claim and whether you may be entitled to compensation.

In a recent claim, The North Carolina Court of Appeal considered a claim in which the plaintiff sued his stepmother for negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress. According to his complaint, the plaintiff alleged that the stepmother failed to provide care for his ailing father and destroyed his relationship with his father. During the litigation, the record showed that the plaintiff routinely failed to provide responses to discovery requests from the defendant to the plaintiff asking for information about his emotional well-being.

The plaintiff also ignored a motion to compel from the court mandating that he provide answers to these discovery requests. Eventually, the lower court issued an order sanctioning the plaintiff by disallowing him to offer any expert or medical testimony about his emotional distress. The defendant moved for summary judgment and the court granted the motion.

On appeal, the plaintiff argued that there was enough evidence in the record to overcome the motion for summary judgment even without discovery requests about his emotional well-being. In a claim for severe emotional distress, North Carolina law requires the plaintiff to show that he or she suffers “any emotional or mental disorder, such as, for example, neurosis, psychosis, chronic depression, phobia, or any other type of severe and disabling emotional or mental condition which may be generally recognized and diagnosed by professionals trained to do so.”

For his failure to answer the discovery requests from the defendant, the court prohibited the plaintiff from offering any expert testimony. The plaintiff did not challenge this sanction on appeal and instead challenged the sufficiency of the court’s order granting the defendant’s motion for summary judgment. Had the plaintiff challenged the sanctions, the plaintiff may have been able to go back and provide expert or medical testimony to describe and substantiate his allegations claiming he suffered emotional distress. The appellate court ultimately rejected his arguments on appeal and affirmed the motion for summary judgment dismissing the case.

If you suffered emotional distress and believe that someone else is responsible for your pain, contact Maurer Law as soon as possible to learn more about your potential right to recovery. Our committed team of Asheville personal injury lawyers is prepared to help you with all phases of the process from gathering evidence to ensuring that you comply with the procedural and substantive rules of your case. We understand how stressful and confusing this situation may be for you and your family. Call us today at 1-888-258-1087 or contact us online to schedule your free and confidential consultation.

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