Pari Arora, School of Law, NMIMS (Deemed to be University)
The "tort of outrage," or the intentional infliction of emotional distress, refers to a circumstance in which a person does an extreme and outrageous act against the victim. This act must produce a great deal of emotional misery and trauma, much beyond what a decent society would tolerate. Even though there is no threat of physical damage, certain types of behaviour can be extremely offensive and mentally hurtful to others under certain circumstances. Due to the subjective nature of the definition of offensive behaviour, the courts have established high criteria for establishing a claim for intentional infliction of emotional damage.
The First Amendment is invariably implicated when the tortfeasor acts solely through speech. When it decided Snyder v. Phelps in 2011, the Supreme Court took its most recent stance on the constitutionality of punishing disturbing speech. Despite the fact that the speech was reprehensible, the Court correctly exempted it from tort culpability for mental distress. For public persons and private figures entangled in an issue of public concern, the Court has already suggested that IED acts face a constitutional hurdle. This Note follows up where Snyder left off on the IED doctrine, arguing that most IIED activities, even against a private figure, should be barred under the First Amendment since the speech is about a matter of private concern. The difficulty in discriminating between public and private affairs, the danger of silencing unpopular speech, and the positive value that injurious communication can have all contribute to this result. To be successful, the plaintiff must establish that the defendant participated in extreme and outrageous conduct that caused serious emotional distress to another person, either knowingly or recklessly.