164 Mulberry Street Corp. v. Columbia University

Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York

771 N.Y.S.2d 16 (N.Y. App. Div. 2004)

An Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress claim may be sustainable where the defendant engages in a campaign of harassment with reckless disregard for its consequences so long as the plaintiff does not pursue any alternative theories of recovery for the same conduct.

Relevant Facts

Francis Flynn was employed as a professor at Columbia University (the defendants). The defendant conducted a study to compare how restaurants responded to accusations of food poisoning. The defendant sent letters to various restaurants (the plaintiffs) claiming that he contracted severe food poisoning. Columbia University was unaware of the study and did not have any policies or procedures in place regarding such studies. The plaintiffs sued the defendants in two separate actions, alleging misrepresentation, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, libel and libel per se. At trial, the plaintiffs described the competitive nature of the New York City restaurant industry and how allegations of food poisoning can cause irreparable damage. Additionally, the plaintiffs submitted personal affidavits that documented physical and psychological suffering as a result of the accusations in the letters. Furthermore, the plaintiffs alleged that they incurred substantial costs to locate the cause of the food contamination. The trial court dismissed some but not all of the claims, allowing the plaintiffs to pursue their claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED). The defendants appeal.

Issue

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Holding & Reasoning

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Concurrence

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Dissent

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Last updated:

December 1, 2020

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Procedural History

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Citations

771 N.Y.S.2d 16 (N.Y. App. Div. 2004)