contained in the Pennsylvania Divorce Code, which notes that "the protection and preservation of the family is of paramount public concern." 23 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 3102(a). As is apparent, the provision does not specifically prohibit or mandate any particular conduct; it is instead a vague and general expression of the legislature's view concerning the importance of family unity. As such, it is an inappropriate basis for the creation of an exception to the general rule. Thus, we hold that the case arising from the facts alleged is governed by the general rule regarding termination of an at-will employee. As a result, we must grant the defendants' motion to dismiss as it relates to the first two counts of the amended complaint.
C. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
Pennsylvania courts recognize the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress, but have been cautious in permitting recovery. Williams v. Guzzardi, 875 F.2d 46, 52 (3d Cir. 1989). Thus, in order for a plaintiff to recover under this theory of liability, the defendant must have acted in a manner "so outrageous in character and so extreme in degree as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency and to be regarded as atrocious and utterly intolerable in a civilized society." Salerno v. Philadelphia Newspapers, Inc., 377 Pa. Super. 83, 546 A.2d 1168, 1172 (1988)(citations and internal quotations omitted); Rinehimer v. Luzerne County Community College, 372 Pa. Super. 480, 539 A.2d 1298, 1305 (citations omitted), appeal denied, 521 Pa. 606, 555 A.2d 116 (1988).
To recover, a plaintiff must establish the following four elements: (1) defendant's conduct must be intentional or reckless, (2) the conduct must be extreme and outrageous, (3) it must cause emotional distress, and (4) the emotional distress must be severe. Williams, 875 F.2d at 52. Further, under Pennsylvania law, to state such a claim in a situation where the plaintiff has allegedly suffered emotional distress as a result of outrageous conduct directed at the plaintiff, as is the case here, there must be an allegation of physical injury. Johnson v. Caparelli, 425 Pa. Super. 404, 625 A.2d 668, 671 (1993)(citing Restatement (Second) of Torts § 46(1)), appeal denied, 647 A.2d 511 (1994). We further note that such a cause of action rarely lies in the context of the employee-employer relationship. As the Third Circuit has noted, "it is extremely rare to find conduct in the employment context that will rise to the level of outrageousness necessary to provide a basis for recovery for the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress." Cox v. Keystone Carbon Co., 861 F.2d 390, 395 (3d Cir. 1988), cert. denied, 498 U.S. 811, 112 L. Ed. 2d 23, 111 S. Ct. 47 (1990).
Applying these principles to the instant matter, this Court concludes that the intentional infliction of emotional distress claim must be dismissed. The pertinent conduct is William Frankel's alleged threat to discharge his son unless he divorced his wife. While we do not endorse the elder Mr. Frankel's alleged conduct, we cannot conclude that it was so outrageous as to be "utterly intolerable in a civilized society." Moreover, we note that the younger Mr. Frankel has not alleged that he suffered physical injury, as is required under Pennsylvania law. Accordingly, plaintiff's claim for damages under the theory of intentional infliction of emotional distress must be dismissed.
D. Invasion of Privacy
An invasion of privacy is actionable under Pennsylvania law, Harris v. Easton Publishing Co., 335 Pa. Super. 141, 483 A.2d 1377, 1383 (1984), and consists of four distinct torts, including (1) intrusion upon seclusion, (2) appropriation of name or likeness, (3) publicity given to one's private life, and (4) publicity placing one in a false light. Id. Here, Adam Frankel alleges that the defendants are liable under the intrusion upon seclusion tort. Intrusion upon seclusion occurs when a person "intentionally intrudes, physically or otherwise, upon the solitude or seclusion of another or his private affairs or concerns . . . if the intrusion would be highly offensive to the reasonable person." Borse v. Piece Goods Shop, Inc., 963 F.2d 611, 620 (3d Cir. 1990)(quoting Restatement (Second) of Torts § 652B). Further, a defendant will not be liable unless the invasion is substantial. Id. at 621. The intrusion may be (1) a physical intrusion into a place where the plaintiff has secluded himself or herself, (2) the use of defendant's senses to oversee or overhear plaintiff's private affairs, (3) or some other form of investigation or examination into plaintiff's private concerns. Id. ; Harris, 483 A.2d at 1383.
Turning to the instant matter, we conclude that Adam Frankel has failed to state a cause of action for invasion of privacy. As the cases make clear, this tort encompasses the physical or sensory penetration of a person's zone of seclusion in an attempt to collect private information concerning that person's affairs. The facts alleged here, that William Frankel terminated his son's employment because the son refused to divorce his wife, do not amount to the type of harm compensable under this theory. Further, to the extent that the intrusion alleged by Adam Frankel is an intentional interference with his marriage, we note that the Restatement specifically excludes marriage contracts from the tort of intentional interference with contract. See Restatement (Second) of Torts § 766 (1977)("One who intentionally and improperly interferes with the performance of a contract (except a contract to marry) between another and a third person by inducing or otherwise causing the third person not to perform the contract, is subject to liability . . ."). Thus, we must conclude that Adam Frankel has failed to state a claim for invasion of privacy in his amended complaint.
III. SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
For the foregoing reasons, the defendants' motion to dismiss plaintiff's amended complaint is granted. An appropriate order follows.
AND NOW, this 31st day of March, 1995, upon consideration of the Defendants' Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), it is hereby ORDERED, for the reasons set forth in the preceding memorandum, that the Motion to Dismiss is granted.
BY THE COURT:
J. Curtis Joyner, J.
© 1992-2004 VersusLaw Inc.