RRD Partner Catherine Nietzel and Associate John Cannavino Win Defense Verdict in Post Divorce Tort Action

July 27, 2012

Catherine Nietzel and John Cannavino earned a defendant's verdict for their client, a New York City mergers and acquisitions lawyer whose former wife had accused him of intentionally inflicting emotional distress by keeping their children from her during one summer when he believed she intended to remove the children from the country.   Recently, post - divorce tort actions have become more common in Connecticut. The couple in this case had been divorced several years before.  Prior to trial, the court denied both a motion to strike and a motion for summary judgment which were premised primarily on the argument that the doctrine of res judicata applied to the earlier determination of the issue of custody in the divorce action as well as an argument that the parties had signed mutual releases regarding any and all claims arising out of the custody dispute.   Notwithstanding these arguments, the court allowed the issue of whether the father intended to inflict severe emotional distress to go to the jury.  After a four-day trial, the jury returned a defense verdict based on its determination that although the father knew or should have known his conduct would or was likely to cause emotional distress, his conduct was neither extreme nor outrageous.