College of Law Faculty Scholarship

Source Publication (e.g., journal title)

University of Tennessee Legal Studies Research Paper

Document Type


Publication Date

January 2012


This article examines the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED) as applied to lawyers engaged in the practice of law. IIED claims against lawyers have arisen in a variety of contexts, ranging from a lawyer’s act of disclosing client confidences to a prosecutor to demanding sex from a client in exchange for legal services. Courts have always had difficulty defining the concept of “extreme and outrageous conduct” for purposes of an IIED claim, but IIED claims against lawyers pose even greater definitional problems for courts. In an effort to provide greater clarity, the article advocates that courts should adopt the following standard: conduct that would warrant disbarment for a lawyer is presumptively extreme and outrageous conduct for purposes of an IIED claim.

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