Appeal from the District Court of Williams County, Northwest Judicial District, the Honorable Gary H. Lee, Judge.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: VandeWalle, Chief Justice.
N.D. Supreme CourtG.K.T. v. T.L.T., 2011 ND 115
This opinion is subject to petition for rehearing. [Go to Documents]
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Opinion of the Court by VandeWalle, Chief Justice.
[¶1] G.K.T. appealed the district court's judgment granting T.L.T.'s motion for summary judgment and dismissing his complaint against T.L.T. and T.K. for intentional infliction of emotional distress. We affirm, concluding his claims against T.L.T. and T.K. do not rise to the level of extreme and outrageous conduct.
[¶2] T.M.T. ("child") was born in 1997 to T.L.T. and T.K., the child's biological mother and father. T.L.T. and T.K. did not have a continuing relationship. G.K.T. moved to a house near T.L.T. and they became friends. In 1998, they began to live together with the child, and they married in 2000. G.K.T. adopted the child with T.K.'s consent in 2001.
[¶3] In 2007, G.K.T. and T.L.T. divorced; the court awarded T.L.T. primary residential responsibility and G.K.T. received parenting time. According to G.K.T., the divorce occurred because T.L.T. tried to re-establish T.K.'s relationship with the child. In 2008, T.L.T. began a new relationship with T.K., who began to spend time with the child. T.L.T, T.K., and the child attended a monster truck rally in Minot, T.K. took the child on camping, fishing, and snowmobiling trips, and the child attended events with T.K. and T.K.'s family.
[¶4] G.K.T. believed his relationship with his adopted child deteriorated because of the new relationship between T.L.T. and T.K, whom he sued for intentional infliction of emotional distress. He claimed T.L.T. and T.K. tried to "spoil and ruin [his] father-daughter relationship." G.K.T. asserted, as a result, that he "lost the love and affection of his daughter who is now acting in a hateful manner towards [him by] stating [he] is not her father." G.K.T. asserted that T.L.T. and T.K. acted outrageously, causing him to experience severe emotional distress. G.K.T. claims to have lost sleep, experienced heartache and stress, and lost his job as a result of his emotional distress.
[¶5] Pending trial, both G.K.T. and T.L.T. were deposed. At G.K.T.'s deposition, he explained that T.L.T. had threatened to tell the child that he was not her father. Further, G.K.T. also asserted that T.L.T. told the child that G.K.T. was not her father. At T.L.T.'s deposition, she stated she had a verbal agreement with T.K., at the time of his consent to G.K.T.'s adoption of the child, to eventually re-establish a relationship between him and the child. T.L.T. claimed she never threatened to interfere with the relationship between G.K.T. and the child; rather, she informed the child she had two fathers.
[¶6] T.L.T. moved for summary judgment, claiming intentional infliction of emotional distress should not be recognized as an actionable tort in North Dakota under these circumstances, that is, where the quality of the parent-child relationship is the basis for the action. Alternatively, T.L.T. claimed G.K.T. would not have been able to establish her actions as extreme or outrageous, or that G.K.T. suffered severe emotional distress. The trial court granted T.L.T.'s motion for summary judgment and dismissed the case, finding, as a matter of law, that "there is no tort ...