FREEMAN JUSTICE delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Chief Justice Karmeier and Justices Thomas,
Kilbride, Burke, and Theis concurred in the judgment and
1 This tort case arose out of foreclosure proceedings
involving plaintiff Melinda Schweihs's home. Plaintiff
sued defendants Chase Home Finance, LLC (Chase), Safeguard
Properties, Inc. (Safeguard), Todd Gonsalez, and Edilfonso
Centeno for numerous torts, including emotional distress, as
a result of Gonsalez and Centeno entering her home. Her
emotional distress claims, which are at issue here, were
dismissed by the circuit court, and the appellate court
affirmed. 2015 IL App (1st) 140683. This court allowed
plaintiff's petition for leave to appeal. Ill. S.Ct. R.
315 (eff. Jan. 1, 2015). For the following reasons, we affirm
the judgment of the appellate court.
2 I. BACKGROUND
3 In 1997, plaintiff executed a note secured by a mortgage
for a home located in Northbrook, Illinois. Chase owned the
mortgage. The mortgage contained a provision granting Chase
the right, in the event of a default by plaintiff, to enter
onto the property to make repairs. The provision reads as
"7. Protection of Lender's Rights in the Property.
If Borrower fails to perform the covenants and agreements
contained in this Security Instrument, or there is a legal
proceeding that may significantly affect Lender's rights
in the Property *** then Lender may do and pay for whatever
is necessary to protect the value of the Property and
Lender's rights in the Property. Lender's actions may
include paying any sums secured by a lien which has priority
over this Security Instrument, appearing in court, paying
reasonable attorney's fees and entering on the Property
to make repairs. Although Lender may take action under this
paragraph 7, Lender does not have to do so."
4 Plaintiff defaulted on the mortgage in 2007. Chase filed a
complaint to foreclose the mortgage against her and obtained
a judgment of foreclosure on May 25, 2010. Plaintiff had the
right to possession of her home until the redemption period
expired on August 25, 2010.
5 To protect its interest in properties, Chase contracts with
outside companies to provide property inspections and
preservation services. Safeguard is one of those companies
that provide national property monitoring and preservation
services for residential properties in foreclosure.
Safeguard's employees do not physically perform the
inspections or render preservation services. Instead,
Safeguard employs "Client Account Representatives"
(CARs) who coordinate with local vendors, with whom Safeguard
contracts. These local vendors, in turn, perform the
inspections and preservation services.
6 On June 17, 2010, Safeguard's inspections department
received a report from one of its vendors that
plaintiff's property was vacant. Based on the report, a
Safeguard CAR placed an "initial secure" order with
A1 Builders, a local contractor that performs the property
inspection services for which Safeguard contracted. An
"initial secure" order may require a vendor to
secure access to the property by changing one of the locks on
the premises and to "winterize" the house by
turning off the utilities. A1 in turn hires subcontractors,
who perform the work orders. Gonsalez and Centeno worked as
7 On June 22, 2010, Gonsalez and Centeno arrived at
plaintiff's property to carry out the "initial
secure" order. They were required to determine the
occupancy status of the property before proceeding with the
order. The order instructed them not to do any work if the
property was occupied.
8 Gonsalez testified during his discovery deposition that he
and Centeno conducted a visual inspection of the property. He
observed that the grass on the property was uncut and the
trees were overgrown. Gonsalez knocked on the front door but
did not receive an answer. He also checked the gas meter and
the water spout and determined that both utilities were
turned off. He further observed a "for sale" sign
at the property, along with a dumpster and a car parked in
9 Gonsalez spoke with a neighbor who lived across the street
from plaintiff's home. Gonsalez testified that the
neighbor told him that the house was not occupied but a woman
would come and go on occasion. She also said that there were
no lights on at plaintiff's home at night. She did not
recognise the car in plaintiff's driveway. She also
informed him that there was a school down the street and that
people from the school would park there knowing it was a
10 Centeno testified during his discovery deposition that he
did not talk with any neighbors but that he recalled that
Gonsalez told him the neighbor stated that "they come
and go. And sometimes they leave their vehicle there."
11 After speaking with the neighbor, Gonsalez again knocked
on plaintiff's front door, without a response. Gonsalez
and Centeno spent in excess of 45 minutes determining if the
house was occupied. They also entered the backyard through a
latched gate of the home's six-foot security fence.
Gonsalez testified that he saw boxes piled on top of each
other and garbage and debris on the floor, observing these
through sliding glass doors. Gonsalez then contacted
management at A1 Builders, relaying the abovementioned
information. He was told to proceed with the work order.
12 To secure the premises, Gonsalez had to remove one of the
secondary locks on the property. He removed the lock to the
back door. Because of the boxes and debris blocking the
entrance, Gonsalez could only open the door about a foot and
had to climb over them to enter the home. Centeno remained at
the back door and never entered the home. Once in the home,
Gonsalez testified that he was confronted by a woman. Both
parties were startled, and plaintiff stated that she wanted
them out of her house and she was calling her lawyer.
Gonsalez responded he was with the mortgage company and asked
her to come to the front door to speak with him. Gonsalez
then left and went around to the front and knocked on the
front door, but plaintiff did not answer. Gonsalez and
Centeno then waited for the arrival of the police.
13 At the time Gonsalez and Centeno arrived at
plaintiff's home, she was a 58-year-old single woman who
was living alone. Plaintiff testified during her discovery
deposition that her home was in foreclosure; however, she
anticipated selling her home while it was still in the
redemption period. Plaintiff testified that when she placed
the house for sale, she informed the realtor that the realtor
was to accompany anybody that came to the property. She also
testified that she was not showing the interior of the house
because of the "mess" and "stuff
everywhere" in piles and in boxes. She described herself
as a "packrat" and testified she was in the process
of packing her belongings which were in disarray.
14 Plaintiff heard knocking on the front door while she was
in the basement;however, she was on the phone and did not
respond. After the phone call, plaintiff went to the second
floor of her home to continue packing. She stated that she
heard the flap drop on the metal mailbox attached to her
house, at which time she looked out a second-floor window.
Plaintiff testified that she saw two men standing in her
driveway, along with a green truck facing the street, without
any markings except for a "Harley" decal on the
back window. Plaintiff thought that they may have been
potential buyers looking at the house, and she decided to
continue to pack.
15 A short time later, plaintiff heard noises coming from the
back of the house. She went downstairs to identify the noise
and encountered Gonsalez in the family room. She testified
that Gonsalez was not wearing a uniform but was in street
clothes with tattoos exposed. Centeno was in the open back
doorway. Plaintiff testified that she spoke first and asked,
"Who are you and what are you doing in my home."
Plaintiff testified that one of them told her in a
"forceful way" that Chase had sent them to secure
and winterize the house and that she needed to come outside
to talk with them. She told them to leave and immediately
called her attorney and the police. She stayed on the phone
with the police dispatcher until the police arrived. The
police investigated, speaking with plaintiff, Gonsalez,
Centeno, and the neighbor with whom Gonsalez had spoken. No
arrests were made. Gonsalez offered to replace the back-door
lock with a new lock and key, but plaintiff declined.
16 Plaintiff testified that after the incident she was afraid
while in her home and fearful that she may be attacked. On
the same day of the incident, plaintiff went to the hospital
because she "didn't feel right." Subsequently,
she sought treatment, therapy, and medication from multiple
doctors for issues with sleeping, post-traumatic stress,
anxiety, and depression. Plaintiff stated that she felt
anxiety when approaching her home and that at times she
stayed in hotels because of her fear of subsequent break-ins.
She was inhibited from packing and preparing her home for
sale because of this fear. Additionally, she alleged that she
sought temporary leave from her employment due to the
incident but that her request was denied and she was instead
17 In October 2010, plaintiff filed a five-count complaint
against defendants alleging trespass, negligent trespass,
private nuisance, intentional infliction of emotional
distress, and negligence. Extensive discovery and motion
practice ensued. Defendants filed motions for summary
judgment as to each of plaintiff's counts. On February 4,
2014, the circuit court heard argument on the motions, and
plaintiff filed a motion for leave to amend the negligence
count to negligent infliction of emotional distress.
18 On February 6, 2014, the court granted defendants'
motions for summary judgment with respect to plaintiff's
claims for private nuisance and intentional infliction of
emotional distress. It denied defendants' motions with
respect to the claims for trespass and negligent trespass,
and those claims are still pending in the circuit court. The
court also granted plaintiff's motion for leave to amend.
It then dismissed the negligent infliction of emotional
distress claim, as amended, pursuant to section 2-615 of the
Code of Civil Procedure (Code). 735 ILCS 5/2-615 (West 2014).
Finally, the court made a finding pursuant to Illinois
Supreme Court Rule 304(a) (eff. Feb. 26, 2010) that there was
"no just reason for delaying either enforcement or
appeal or both." Thereafter, plaintiff filed a timely
notice of appeal.
19 A divided appellate court affirmed, first addressing the
negligent infliction of emotional distress claim. The court
noted the two types of victims in emotional distress cases:
bystanders and direct victims. It determined that plaintiff
was a direct victim and must allege "some physical
impact" from defendants' conduct. The court found
that because she did not plead any physical contact, she
could not establish a claim for negligent infliction of
emotional distress and that count was properly dismissed. It
further noted that its conclusion was consistent with this
court's holdings in Rickey v. Chicago Transit
Authority, 98 Ill.2d 546, 555 (1983); Corgan v.
Muehling, 143 Ill.2d 296, 304 (1991); and Pasquale
v. Speed Products Engineering, 166 Ill.2d 337, 346-47
(1995). The court did acknowledge however, that certain
language in Pasquale mischaracterized the holding in
Corgan, which has led to some confusion in the
courts. It concluded that the language in Pasquale
was obiter dictum and not binding. 2015 IL App (1st)
20 The appellate court next addressed plaintiff's
intentional infliction of emotional distress claim, finding
that summary judgment was proper as a matter of law because
plaintiff could not establish that defendants' conduct
was "extreme and outrageous."
21 Justice Harris dissented regarding the negligent
infliction of emotional distress claim, stating that the
majority was wrong in continuing to require physical impact
in claims for negligent infliction of emotional distress for
direct victims. 2015 IL App (1st) 140683, ¶ 49 (Harris,
22 We granted plaintiff's petition for leave to appeal.
Ill. S.Ct. R. 315 (eff. Jan. 1, 2015). We also granted the
Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel leave to submit
an amicus curiae brief in support of defendants.
Ill. S.Ct. ...