HARRISBURG – A Pennsylvania state appellate court has reversed a trial court decision that allowed for a parking company employee to collect a judgment of more than $67,000 for intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED) in an assault and battery case versus his employer.

On Aug. 30, judges Susan Peikes Gantman, Anne E. Lazarus and William H. Platt ruled appellee Dwayne Gray was not entitled to recover funds for IIED in his lawsuit against Allen Huntzinger and Central Parking Systems Inc. (CPS), first filed and decided in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas. Lazarus wrote the court’s opinion in this case.

Gray initially filed suit in April 2013 asserting claims of assault, battery, and IIED versus the appellants, seeking compensatory and punitive damages in connection with an April 19, 2011 incident at the CPS offices.

Gray worked for CPS at that time and was told to report to the office of Huntzinger, the Operations Manager for CPS at the Philadelphia Sports Complex. Huntzinger informed Gray he was being suspended pending an investigation.

When he asked why he was being suspended, Gray alleges Huntzinger fired him, grabbed his arm to pull Gray towards him and then followed him into the hallway, where he allegedly collided with him – which Gray said caused a flare-up of his Crohn’s Disease.

However, CPS Facility Manager Annemarie Williams, a witness to the entire incident, testified Huntzinger at no time grabbed Gray or acted angrily towards him, whereas Gray supposedly acted “belligerent” during the meeting.

On Nov. 20, 2014, the jury returned a verdict for the appellants on the claims of assault and battery, but for Gray on the claim of IIED. The jury awarded Gray a total of $67,500, including $15,000 in compensatory damages, $2,500 in punitive damages against Huntzinger and $50,000 in punitive damages against CPS.

Huntzinger and CPS raised several issues for Superior Court review, including whether Gray was required to submit expert medical testimony to recover on his claim for IIED and a number of other ancillary claims.

“Gray asserts that the fact he was physically impacted by Huntzinger relieves him of the need to present expert testimony. However, for various reasons, the authorities cited by Gray do not support his claim. Several of the cases upon which Gray relies do not involve IIED but rather negligent infliction of emotional distress, for which medical evidence is not required,” Lazarus wrote.

Though the appellant contended several other issues on appeal, Lazarus said they were rendered moot after the Court already concluded the lack of medical evidence presented nullified the trial court judgment rendered in favor of Gray.

“Because we have determined that Gray was not entitled to recover for IIED based on the lack of medical evidence presented at trial, we need not address the remainder of appellants’ claims,” Lazarus said.

The appellants are represented by Sherry L. Horowitz in Bala Cynwyd.

The appellee is represented by Stephen H. Cristal of Goldfein & Joseph, in Philadelphia.

Superior Court of Pennsylvania case 1882 EDA 2015

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 130403584

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at nickpennrecord@gmail.com

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