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LEWIS v. COTTON

August 16, 1996

RODNEY A. LEWIS, Plaintiff,
v.
ANITA COTTON and ILLINOIS BELL TELEPHONE COMPANY (AMERITECH), Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ALESIA

 Before the court is defendants Illinois Bell Telephone Company's ("Ameritech") and Anita Cotton's ("Cotton") (collectively, "defendants") motion to dismiss Counts One, Three, and Four of plaintiff Rodney A. Lewis' ("Lewis") complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which the court can grant relief. For the reasons that follow, the court grants defendants' motion.

 I. BACKGROUND

 Lewis filed a four-count complaint against defendants. Count One, against Cotton, alleges sexual harassment and constructive discharge in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2000e-17. Count Two, against Ameritech, also alleges sexual harassment and constructive discharge in violation of Title VII. Count Three, against Cotton, alleges a state law claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress. Count Four, against Ameritech, also alleges intentional infliction of emotional distress.

 Defendants moved to dismiss Counts One, Three, and Four. The court dismissed Count One on February 8, 1996, because a supervisor is not an "employer" that can be sued under Title VII. (See Minute Order dated February 8, 1996.) Thus, only defendants' motion to dismiss the state law claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress is now before the court.

 II. DISCUSSION

 A. Standard for deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss

 When deciding a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), the court must accept all well-pleaded allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff. Ellsworth v. City of Racine, 774 F.2d 182, 184 (7th Cir. 1985), cert. denied, 475 U.S. 1047, 106 S. Ct. 1265, 89 L. Ed. 2d 574 (1986). If, when viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the court must dismiss the case. See FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6); Gomez v. Illinois State Board of Educ., 811 F.2d 1030, 1039 (7th Cir. 1987). However, the court may dismiss the complaint only if it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claims that would entitle him to relief. Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 78 S. Ct. 99, 102, 2 L. Ed. 2d 80 (1957).

 B. Failure to state claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress

 Ameritech and Cotton contend that Counts Three and Four must be dismissed because Lewis fails to state a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress.

 To be actionable, the conduct alleged must be particularly egregious.

 
'"It has not been enough that the defendant has acted with an intent which is tortious or even criminal, or that he has intended to inflict emotional distress, or even that his conduct has been characterized by "malice" or a degree of aggravation which would entitle plaintiff to punitive damages for another tort. Liability has been found [only when the conduct] is so outrageous in character, and so extreme in degree, as to go beyond all bounds of decency."'

 Hamros, 894 F. Supp. at 1180 (quoting Davis, 66 Ill. 2d at 89-90, 360 N.E.2d at 767 (quoting Restatement (Second) of Torts § 46 cmt. d (1965))). Furthermore, "'the law intervenes only where the distress inflicted is so severe that no reasonable man could be expected to endure it."'" Harriston v. Chicago Tribune Co., 992 F.2d 697, 703 (7th Cir. 1993) (quoting Davis, 66 ...


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