Leonard E. Price, Pittsburgh, for appellants.
James R. Schadel, Pittsburgh, for appellees.
Rowley, Olszewski and Popovich, JJ.
[ 340 Pa. Super. Page 384]
This is an appeal from an order of the trial court which granted a demurrer to the complaint filed by plaintiffs-appellants, William Thompson and his wife, Ruth Thompson, and their daughter, Catherine Thompson. We affirm.
On July 20, 1977, William Thompson sustained permanent injuries when he received an electric shock from a power line when the crane boom owned by Anthony Crane Rental collided with the power line.
William and his wife filed a trespass action against West Penn Power Company and Anthony Crane Rental, Inc. and, after a seven day trial, the jury entered verdicts of $500,000 for William Thompson and $150,000 for his wife. Following the discharge of the jury, appellants alleged that Attorney Sikov, counsel for the insurance carrier of the defendant, Anthony Crane Rental, Inc., approached the plaintiffs and shouted words to the effect that they would not see any of the money and that he was going to file an appeal to the verdict. Counsel then again shouted after he had collided deliberately with William Thompson that he was going to appeal the verdict. According to the appellants, William Thompson then telephoned his wife to inform her of the good news since she had not attended the trial. William also told his wife what Sikov had said. Thompson's wife "became almost paralyzed so that she was unable to continue the conversation and she became nauseaus [sic]." Appellants' Complaint Allegation at No. 34. Appellants then filed an action of intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Accepting as true the factual averments set forth by the appellants, we conclude that the trial court properly granted the demurrer.
Appellants argue that (1) the trial court erred in restricting its scope of review to its own determination of what constitutes outrage; (2) the trial court erred in determining that the conduct of the attorney was not sufficiently outrageous to raise a question for the jury to decide; (3) the
[ 340 Pa. Super. Page 385]
trial court erred in restricting its analysis of outrageous conduct solely to comment d of the Restatement of Torts (Second), Section 46, rather than reading that comment in tandem with the other comments to the section and with the current case law; and (4) the wife of the injured victim is a proper plaintiff to this lawsuit. We must reject appellants' contentions.
The tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress is an actionable wrong for conduct which is "'of an extreme outrageous type.'" Banyas v. Lower Bucks Hospital, 293 Pa. Super. 122, 126, 437 A.2d 1236, 1238 (1981) (quoting Jones v. Nissenbaum, Rudolph & Seidner, 244 Pa. Super. 377, 383, 368 A.2d 770, 773 (1976); Restatement (Second) of Torts § 46 (1965). Additionally, our own Supreme Court has said that "much of what is said with respect to the right of privacy is also applicable to the intentional infliction of emotional distress. Judicial recognition of a cause of action for the unwarranted invasion of one's right of privacy is of comparatively recent vintage." Forster v. Manchester, 410 Pa. 192, 195-196, 189 A.2d 147, 149 (1963). Recently, our own Court held that an out-of-court communication which was sent to opposing counsel was privileged ...