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Court Upholds Pleading of Claim for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress in Dispute Between Neighbors in a Co-Op

In another case involving a dispute between occupants of neighboring apartments in a cooperative, an appellate court has held that tenant-shareholders pleaded a legally sufficient claim against their neighbor for the tort of “intentional infliction of emotional distress.”  Silverman v. Power Towers Tenants Corp., 2022 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 3494, 2022 N.Y. Slip Op. 03581 (1st Dep’t June 2, 2022).

This holding was based on claims alleging “a three-year pattern of conduct” involving “a deliberate, systematic, and malicious campaign of harassment and intimidation” by a neighbor.  The neighbor’s wrongful conduct included, among other things, “obtaining unauthorized access to [a party’s] private Instagram account, accosting her in building common areas and yelling at her, taking photographs of her without permission, and making false noise complaints against her to the co-op.”  This behavior allegedly “constituted a concerted effort to pressure the co-op to terminate their proprietary lease and have [one of them] evicted.”  The court concluded that “[t]hese allegations, considered cumulatively, are on a par with those that have been found to satisfy the outrageousness requirement necessary to plead intentional infliction of emotional distress.”

The court also held that if these allegations were proven, they could also support a claim for a permanent injunction, because the neighbor “has continued to violate [the] right to quiet and peaceful use of the apartment and that monetary damages would be insufficient to redress the serious and irreparable harm that would flow from the use of [the claimant’s] home.”  However, the court dismissed another claim alleging negligent (as opposed to intentional) infliction of emotional distress, holding that there was no legally sufficient relationship between the parties as required to support this type of claim.