Medina County Courthouse

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Eighth District Case on Emotional Distress & Summary Judgments

The Court of Appeals for the Eighth Appellate District released an opinion on April 4, 2013, involving an appeal from the granting of a motion for summary judgment. The case, Lively v. Donald Dunning, D.D.S., Inc., 2013-Ohio-1350, involved an ex-employee, and former step-daughter, suing her former employer. The employer had reported to the police that she had embezzled money from their accounts. The report was made after she resigned her position. The police report led to an indictment, but the judge in the criminal case, found her not guilty. 

She then sued for malicious prosecution and for intentional infliction of emotional distress. The defendant responded by arguing that the grand jury indictment created a presumption that there was probable cause for the indictment and therefore no liability for malicious prosecution. 

The Court of Appeals reversed. The Court noted that the presumption of probable cause from the issuing of the indictment was a rebuttable presumption. In this particular case, the appellate court noted that record showed the existence of facts from which a circumstantial case could be made for the rebutting of the presumption. 

On the intentional infliction of emotional distress claim the Court noted that  reporting a crime to a police agency and assisting in the investigation is not the type of outrageous conduct that leads to intentional infliction of emotional distress. The Court also noted, however, that the circumstances of this particular case were such that the Court could not say as a matter of law that the conduct of the employer was not outrageous. Therefore the summary judgment on that claim was also reversed. 

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