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LONGUS v. FIRST COLUMBIA MGMT.

July 16, 1987

Deborah E. Longus, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
First Columbia Management, Inc., et al., Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: HARRIS

 Stanley S. Harris, United States District Judge

 This matter is before the Court on defendants' motion for partial summary judgment. Upon consideration of the motion, the opposition thereto, and the entire record, the Court concludes that the motion should be granted.

 Background

 Seven months later, in October of 1985, as a result of a water leak in the apartment directly above the Longus apartment, the ceiling over the Longus' bathroom collapsed. Deborah Longus alleges that she had notified the manager of the apartment building of the leak three days before the collapse, as well as a building maintenance man the day before the collapse. She asserts that she injured her back while attempting to clean up the soggy remains of the bathroom ceiling.

 On January 21, 1986, plaintiffs brought this suit alleging three causes of action: negligent personal injury to Deborah and Tonya Longus as a result of the gas explosion; negligent personal injury to Deborah Longus as a result of the collapsed ceiling; and negligent personal injury to Deborah and Tonya Longus as a result of Edgewood's failure to provide competent management.

 Discussion

 Defendants seek summary judgment with respect to Tonya's claim of emotional distress arising from the gas explosion. Defendants rest their motion initially on the ground that damages for negligent infliction of emotional distress may be recovered only when the emotional distress is accompanied by some sort of physical injury. In response to plaintiffs' suggestion that recovery may be granted by recharacterizing Tonya's claim as one for intentional infliction of emotional distress, defendants argue that their alleged conduct was not, as a matter of law, sufficiently outrageous to support such a claim. The Court agrees with defendants on both counts.

 I. Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress

 Under District of Columbia law, damages for negligent infliction of emotional distress may be recovered only when the plaintiff has suffered a physical injury as well. See District of Columbia v. Smith, 436 A.2d 1294, 1296 (D.C. 1981); Waldon v. Covington, 415 A.2d 1070, 1076 (D.C. 1980). Although the physical injury need not be substantial, Waldon, 415 A.2d at 1076 n.20, some "physical injury-causing impact" must occur. Saunders v. Air Florida, Inc., 558 F. Supp. 1233, 1236 (D.D.C. 1983). As it is undisputed that Tonya was not even present in the apartment when the gas explosion occurred, she could not have suffered the requisite physical injury. *fn1"

 II. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

 Plaintiffs allege that the defendants "consistently used relatively unskilled maintenance men to move gas stoves," in violation of District of Columbia law. *fn2" Plaintiffs offer no further support for their assertion that these alleged actions, which are characterized in the complaint as "a negligent course of conduct," demonstrate the necessary state of mind. Even if plaintiffs' allegations are accepted as true, it is clear to the Court that defendants' conduct would, at most, constitute negligence. The use of unskilled workers cannot, as a matter of law, be deemed "so extreme in degree, as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency." Jackson v. ...


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