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Harris v. Jones

380 A.2d 611 (1977)

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Harris v. Jones

Maryland Court of Appeals

380 A.2d 611 (1977)

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Facts

Harris (plaintiff), a 26 year old employee of General Motors Corporation (GM) worked at GM for eight years. Harris had a lifelong stuttering problem and had difficulty with longer words and sentences. Harris’condition caused him to shake his head up and down when he attempted to speak. Harris’ supervisor H. Robert Jones (defendant) approached Harris more than thirty times over a five month period and verbally and physically mimicked Harris’ stuttering disability. Harris was emotionally troubled by Jones’ actions. Harris asked Jones to transfer departments and was called a troublemaker by Jones. Jones chastised Harris for seeking help to file a grievance, and imitated and mimicked Harris’s stuttering condition. Other employees also mimicked Harris’ stuttering disability. Harris sued Jones and GM for intentional infliction of emotional distress alleging that they were aware of his speech impediment and nevertheless they maliciously and cruelly ridiculed him, which caused him severe emotional distress. The jury awarded Harris compensatory and punitive damages, which was reversed on appeal by the Court of Special Appeals. Harris then appealed to the Court of Appeals of Maryland.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Murphy, C.J.)

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