United States District Court, D. Idaho
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
LYNN WINMILL, U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
Court has before it a motion to dismiss filed by defendant
Marathon. The motion is fully briefed and at issue. For the
reasons explained below, the Court will grant the motion in
part, dismissing the claim for intentional interference with
prospective economic advantage, but will deny the remainder
of the motion.
Alice Kipp was a production line worker for defendant
Marathon Cheese Corporation when she injured her wrist while
on the job. Kipp filed a workers' compensation claim, but
her injury was determined to be a pre-existing condition, and
she was fired. She asked to be re-hired with an accommodation
for her injury, but Marathon refused.
responded by filing this lawsuit alleging that her
termination constituted (1) a violation of the Americans with
Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq., and
the Idaho Human Rights Act, I.C. § 67-5901, et seq.; (2)
intentional infliction of emotional distress; 3) negligent
infliction of emotional distress; and 4) intentional
interference with prospective economic advantage. Marathon
has moved to dismiss the last three counts. Kipp agrees that
count four should be dismissed but objects to dismissing
counts two and three.
Infliction of Emotional Distress
argues that Kipp has failed to allege the outrageous conduct
required for this claim. Idaho courts require extremely bad
behavior on the part of defendants to allow a claim of
intentional infliction of emotional distress. See, e.g.,
Edmondson v. Shearer Lumber Prods., 75 P.3d 733, 741
(2003) (noting that, even if a defendant's conduct is
“unjustifiable, ” it does not necessarily rise to
the “outrageous” standard; to do so, it must be
“atrocious and beyond all possible bounds of decency
”). An employer's violation of the ADA, standing
alone, does not satisfy the outrageous or atrocious element.
Ward v. Sorrento Lactalis, Inc., 392 F.Supp.2d 1187,
1195 (D.Id. 2005). Under Idaho law, the Court acts
as a gatekeeper to determine, at the summary judgment stage
generally, whether there is sufficient evidence to cause
reasonable persons to differ on whether the employer's
conduct was sufficiently outrageous or atrocious.
Edmondson, 75 P.3d at 741. Marathon argues that
Kipp's allegations are so vague that they fail to
describe outrageous conduct and must be dismissed.
has alleged in her complaint that Marathon's conduct in
firing her was outrageous and malicious. More specifically,
she alleges that (1) her medical care for the wrist injury
was “directed and controlled” by Marathon; and
(2) the diagnosis that got her fired - a diagnosis that her
wrist injury existed before the work accident - was made by
physicians selected by Marathon for their willingness to
attribute injuries “to pre-existing conditions whenever
possible.” See Complaint (Dkt. No. 1) at
¶¶ 26, 47-48. With this allegation, Kipp has gone
beyond a vague claim that Marathon acted outrageously, and
has provided sufficient detail to satisfy the pleading
standards at the motion to dismiss stage. See Feltmann v.
Petco, 2012 WL 1189913 (D.Id. March 20, 2012)
(denying motion to dismiss when complaint alleged sufficient
detail on sexual harassment claim).
also argues that Kipp has failed to allege any facts to back
up her allegation that she has suffered “severe
emotional distress, ” see Complaint, supra at
¶ 77. However, that allegation is sufficient because the
Idaho Supreme Court has held that plaintiffs' subjective
testimony about their severe emotional distress was enough,
by itself, to satisfy this requirement. See Spence v.
Howell, 890 P.2d 714, 725 (Id. Sup.Ct. 1995).
Infliction of Emotional Distress
establish a claim for negligent infliction of emotional
distress, there must be both an allegation and proof that a
party claiming negligent infliction of emotional distress has
suffered a physical injury, i.e., a physical manifestation of
an injury caused by the negligently inflicted emotional
distress. McWilliams v. Latah Sanitation, Inc., 554
F.2d 1165, 1184-85 (D. Id. 2008). The Idaho Supreme
Court has recognized that even in a case lacking what might
be commonly described as a physical injury, it is sufficient
if the plaintiff alleges physical manifestations of emotional
trauma such as “sleep disorders, headaches, stomach
pains, suicidal thoughts, fatigue, loss of appetite,
irritability, anxiety, reduced libido and being
‘shaky-voiced.'” Carrillo v. Boise Tire
Co., Inc., 274 P.3d 1256, 1265 (Id.Sup.Ct. 2011). In the
Carrillo case, the court found that the injury
requirement was met when evidence showed that the plaintiff
“regressed in development, appeared withdrawn and
suffered nightmares.” Id.
alleges in her complaint that her firing, and her subsequent
difficulty finding employment, “has had a significant
emotional impact” on her, and has caused her
“pain and suffering and extreme and severe mental
anguish.” Complaint, supra, at ¶¶
65, 101. The allegation of pain appears to be a physical
manifestation of the emotional distress and hence falls
within Carrillo. Of course, Kipp will need to be
much more ...