State Rubbish Collectors Association v. Siliznoff Case Brief

Summary of State Rubbish Collectors Association v. Siliznoff, 38 Cal. 2d 330, 240 P.2d 282 (1952)

Facts: Siliznoff (P) was not a member of State Rubbish Collectors Association (D). P got a contract for rubbish collection from Acme which previously had a contract with a rubbish collector who was a member of D. D’s president and members threatened P to compensate its member for taking away his job or they will physically beat up P and burn his truck. P was coerced into signing the membership form and then signing an agreement to pay the member collector who previously worked for Acme. As a result of the threats, P got physically ill and missed several days of work.

Procedure: The jury awarded P $1,250 in general and special damages and $7,500 in exemplary damages. Exemplary damages were later reduced to $4,000.

Issue: Can P recover for damages resulting not from physical contact, but from mental distress caused by D?

Holding: Yes

Rationale: D intentionally subjected P to distress that was so intense that it resulted in physical bodily harm to P. D could have reasonably foreseen that his threats to P could have resulted in physical harm and such actually occurred. In cases of torts such as assault, battery, false imprisonment and defamation, mental suffering frequently constitute the principle element of damages and this element is present in the current case and the P can recover for damages for the outrageous mental distress caused by D that resulted in physical harm. Affirmed.

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