Sacco v. High Country Independent Press, Inc.
271 Mont. 209, 896 P.2d 411 (1995)

  • Sacco quit her job at High Country. The company falsely circulated a story that Sacco had stolen High Country property. They even went so far as to file a police report with Officer Dighans. Sacco sued everybody (including Dighans) for negligent infliction of emotional distress.
  • The Trial Court found for the defendants on summary judgment. Sacco appealed.
    • The traditional rule was that courts will not recognize a cause of action for emotional distress except where the defendant creates a risk of physical harm.
      • Under that rule, Sacco had no claim because no one ever threatened to physically harm her, they just ruined her reputation.
  • The Appellate Court reversed and remanded for a trial.
    • The Appellate Court found that a cause of action for infliction of emotional distress will arise where serious or severe emotional distress was the reasonably foreseeable consequence of a person’s negligent or intentional act or omission.
    • The Court noted that what is serious or severe is a question of fact for a jury to decide. So they remanded the case for trial.
      • In the case of Camper v. Minor (915 S.W.2d 437 (Tenn. 1996)), it was suggested that a serious or severe emotional injury occurs where “a reasonable person, normally constituted, would be unable to adequately cope with the mental stress engendered by the circumstances of the case.”