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Can I sue for emotional distress?

Atlanta, GA |

A college housemate moved out and stopped speaking to me or any of the other housemates because she believed I was "dangerous". Her mother called my school and told the administration that I was a sociopath and now rumors have been spread that I am sociopathic, schizophrenic, planning to burn the house down and that I am dangerous generally. I have evidence against all of this, but the ordeal has been going on for a week and has caused me significant emotional distress. I've had poor digestion, high stress, loss of concentration, feelings of hurt and anger, and I feel traumatized. With medical and psychological documentation, can I sue the housemate and her mother for emotional distress?

Attorney Answers 3


  1. No, the legal standard for the civil wrong of emotional distress requires conduct far more outrageous than making a report or complaint to college administrators about someone's conduct or potential conduct based on concerns about their emotional state.

    My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as legal advice. I give legal advice only in the course of an attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by individual consultation and execution of a written agreement for legal services.


  2. Under Georgia law, the requirements for intentional infliction of emotional distress is as follows:
    (1) The conduct must be intentional or reckless;
    (2) The conduct must be extreme and outrageous;
    (3) There must be a causal connection between the wrongful conduct and the emotional distress; and
    (4) The emotional distress must be severe.

    However, for extreme and outrageous conduct, actionable conduct does not include insults, threat, indignities, annoyances, petty oppressions, or other vicissitudes of daily living.
    Further, the intentional and reckless conduct must be directed at the plaintiff so the rumors and information given to the school administration would probably not be considered as being directed to you.

    Based on the facts above, you probably do not have a cause of action against the housemate and her mother. As the other attorney stated, it is probably more sensible to seek an administrative complaint through the school.

    I hope this help and best of luck to you.

    The materials you obtain from this website by Attorney Austen Na is for informational purposes only. The materials are not legal advice, and they are not intended to be legal advice. The materials do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Attorney Austen Na. The materials are not guaranteed to be complete, correct, or current. The use of this website does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Attorney Austen Na. You should not act or rely on the materials from this website without consulting an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction for advice regarding your individual circumstances. We invite you to contact Attorney Austen Na with the NA Law Firm, and we welcome your calls, letters, and electronic mail. However, please do not send any confidential or privileged information to the NA Law Firm until such time when an attorney-client relationship has been established or you have received written agreements from the NA Law Firm to provide the legal services that you requested. Your communications with the NA Law Firm may not be considered as confidential or privileged unless an attorney-client relationship has been established or you have received written agreements to provide legal services for you from the NA Law Firm.


  3. The answer to your question is yes. You can sue, which means file a lawsuit, anyone for anything at any time. However, suing someone does not necessarily mean that you have a viable cause of action or that you will recover any money. Georgia law provides harsh penalties for those who file and litigate frivolous lawsuits, including but not limited to dismissal of the case and payment of the other party's attorney's fees and expenses of litigation.

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