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Swenson v. Northern Crop Insurance, Inc.

Supreme Court of North Dakota
498 N.W.2d 174 (1993)


Facts

Caroline Swenson (plaintiff) started working for Northern Crop Insurance, Inc. (NCI) (defendant) as a secretary. After the office manager resigned 10 months later, Swenson was promoted to the office-manager position. NCI’s general manager, John Krasbeth (defendant), opposed the promotion because he believed the position was better suited for a man. Following Swenson’s promotion, Krasbeth made repeated derogatory and sexist comments toward Swenson and threatened to replace her with a man. Krasbeth then reorganized the office and demoted Swenson to a clerk and typist position with less pay than her initial position as a secretary. Two new positions were given to men, and Swenson was not given an opportunity to apply due to her gender. Krasbeth avoided Swenson and refused to speak to her. Swenson was a recovering alcoholic, and the stress caused by the gender discrimination required her to seek counseling and treatment. Krasbeth was aware of Swenson’s unstable emotional condition stemming from her history as an alcoholic. After leaving NCI, Swenson brought a lawsuit against NCI and Krasbeth, alleging intentional infliction of emotional distress. The trial judge granted summary judgment in favor of NCI and Krasbeth, holding that a reasonable jury could not find their alleged conduct sufficiently outrageous to support Swenson’s claim. Swenson appealed the decision.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Erickstad, J.)

Concurrence (Levine, J.)

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