Justice Donald C. Wintersheimer Digital Collection
Tort of Outrage:
Albert Craft and Irene Craft v. Roy Rice, Ashland Oil, Inc. and Ashland Coal, Inc.
Albert and Irene Craft were husband and wife and lived in the Ashland Coal weighmaster's house where Albert worked weighing coal and coal trucks. From May to July of 1978, Rice, a former Boyd County Sheriff, allegedly harassed Irene Craft by keeping her under surveillance at work and home, telling her over the CB radio that he would put her husband in jail and driving so as to force her vehicle into an opposing lane of traffic. It is claimed that Rice also used the CB radio to talk to Albert Craft who complained of resulting mental anguish. Irene Craft's complaints included chronic diarrhea, colitis and a nervous condition as well as mental anguish.
The Crafts filed their suit more than one year after the last alleged act of harassment. They contended that the trial court and the Court of Appeals erred in deciding that the one-year statute of limitations applied to their situation.
The crucial issue was whether, the five-year statute of limitations for an action for an injury "not arising on contract and not otherwise enumerated" applied to this situation rather than the one-year limit for injury "to the person of the plaintiff
The Court reversed the lower courts' decisions finding that the five-year statute of limitations applies when the gist of the tort is the claimed interference with the plaintiff's rights causing emotional distress generating a cause of action regardless of whether the plaintiff suffers any bodily harm resulting from the emotional distress.
The Court also adopted the Restatement (Second) of Torts § 46, creating a tort action for Outrageous Conduct Causing Severe Emotional Distress. Concluding that, "he conduct alleged here is a deviation from all reasonable bounds of decency and is utterly intolerable in a civilized community. It qualifies as harassment intended to cause extreme emotional distress. The Crafts had a right to be left alone. The criminal law prohibits harassment in KRS 525.070, and a corresponding tort should also be available."