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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?

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Attorney answers 3


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.

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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.

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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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