Alcoholics Anonymous (AA): A Tort of Outrage

230 Kan. 289 (1981) 637 P.2d 1175 LORETTA F. ROBERTS, Appellant, v. LESLIE L. SAYLOR, Appellee. No. 52,288 Supreme Court of Kansas. Opinion filed October 23, 1981. Fred W. Phelps, Jr., of Fred W. Phelps, Chartered, of Topeka, argued the cause, and Margie J. Phelps, of the same firm, and Robert D. Ochs, of Fisher, Ochs & Heck, P.A., of Topeka, were with him on the briefs for the appellant. Edwin D. Smith, of Fisher, Patterson, Sayler & Smith, of Topeka, argued the cause, and J. Steven Pigg, of the same firm, was with him on the briefs for the appellee. The opinion of the court was delivered by FROMME, J.: The present appeal concerns a claim against a doctor for causing plaintiff emotional distress. This type of claim is generally referred to as based on the tort of outrage. The trial court sustained a motion for summary judgment in favor of defendant based on the pleadings, stipulations, admissions, and 290*290 deposition of the plaintiff. The Court of Appeals reversed the judgment and remanded the case for trial. The case is now before this court on an order granting defendant's Petition for Review. The factual background necessary to understand the circumstances which gave rise to this claim spans three separate operations which the plaintiff has survived. The first operation was by a Dr. McClure, the second by Dr. Saylor, and the third by a Dr. McElroy. Dr. Saylor operated on December 27, 1974, and during this operation removed two silk sutures which had remained in plaintiff's body after the first operation performed by Dr. McClure. Dr. Saylor continued to care for Mrs. Roberts until she had recovered and her wound from the operation had healed. However, because of having the two silk sutures left in her, plaintiff filed a medical malpractice action against Dr. McClure. Mrs. Roberts and her attorney sought testimony from Dr. Saylor to maintain this suit against Dr. McClure. Dr. Saylor did not believe the suit was justified and informed Mrs. Roberts and her attorney of this conclusion. Mrs. Roberts by deposition testified as follows: "Well, he told me that he was sorry he ever had anything to do with me; that he despised people like me and my family for causing doctors trouble, and we was a bunch of thieves without a gun is what he said." As a result of Dr. Saylor's refusal to cooperate with plaintiff, she filed a suit against Dr. Saylor. This suit was subsequently settled and dismissed. Three years later the incident which is the basis for the present suit occurred. This was on January 26, 1978. At this time plaintiff was about to have surgery performed by Dr. McElroy for repair of an incisional hernia. She had been administered preoperation medication and was lying on a cart or gurney in a preoperation room at Stormont-Vail Hospital. The room was enclosed with glass doors. The doctor's lounge was close by and Dr. Saylor had been there scheduling surgery on his wrist with a Dr. Sergio Delgado. Dr. Saylor came out of the doctor's lounge and was standing in front of the glass doors of the preoperation room where the plaintiff was awaiting surgery. Up to this point there is no disagreement as to the facts. Thereafter, a sharp conflict appears between the deposition testimony of the plaintiff, Mrs. Roberts, and that of the doctor, Dr. Saylor. Mrs. Roberts testified: "A. I seen him standing out there, and pretty soon I just turned back over and I 291*291 heard the doors open. And I never thought nothing about it until I heard Dr. Saylor ask the nurse, `Who you got there?' And she said, `Loretta Roberts.' He says, `Well, I told her once that I didn't like her,' and he says, `I came here to tell her again,' he says, and then about that time I looked up at him and he says, `I don't like you, I don't like you,' and he says, `I wanted to tell you that before you went in there.' He was real hostile in the face when I looked back up at him from the cart." Dr. Saylor's deposition testimony was as follows: "A. I stopped there when the nurse from the room came to the door and opened the door, sliding glass door. And there is a hall, the patient's waiting room was over there and the sliding glass door. And there was a patient in there. And the nurse came and opened the door and asked me a question. She said, `Do you know Loretta Roberts, Dr. Saylor?' That was the question. .... "Q. What did you say when she asked you that? "A. I answered her and said, `Yes, I know Loretta Roberts. And I don't like her anymore now than I have in the past.' "Q. You told Miss Burgland that? "A. Yes, those were my very words. "Q. What did Mrs. Burgland say to that, sir? "A. She said nothing that I recall. "Q. What did she do? "A. I don't remember. I went on out the door. I paid no attention to anyone else. I went on my way." In considering whether it was error for a trial court to grant summary judgment for defendant in this type of case, an appellate court must disregard the doctor's version of what occurred and accept as true the version of the plaintiff. This we will do. At this point it is sufficient to note that the plaintiff was operated successfully and recovered therefrom. It is agreed by both parties that plaintiff suffered emotional distress, and that no bodily harm resulted from the conduct of the doctor. We will return to these facts later. Let us now consider, generally, the type of action which arises from the infliction of mental distress, the tort of outrage. The law has been slow to accept an interest in peace of mind as being entitled to independent legal protection, even as against intentional invasions. Various reasons have been advanced for this reluctance to redress purely mental injuries. One such reason is the difficulty of proof, or of measurement of the damages. It has been said that mental consequences are so intangible and vary so much with the individual that they cannot be anticipated, and therefore lie outside the boundaries of any reasonable direct 292*292 connection with the act of the defendant. The most valid objection to recognizing and protecting such interest or right to freedom from emotional distress lies in the alleged difficulties in containing or restricting such actions to bona fide claims where emotional distress has been truly severe. Once the tort of outrage is recognized, the doors of the courts are opened wide, not only to fictitious claims, but to litigation in the field of trivialities and mere bad manners. Prosser, Law of Torts (4th ed. 1971) at 51. Kansas first recognized the tort of outrage and opened the doors of our courts in 1974 when Dawson v. Associates Financial Services Co., 215 Kan. 814, 529 P.2d 104 (1974), was decided. Since Dawson was decided the following cases have reached the appellate courts of this state: Dotson v. McLaughlin, 216 Kan. 201, 531 P.2d 1 (1975); Vespa v. Safety Fed. Savings & Loan Ass'n, 219 Kan. 578, 582, 549 P.2d 878 (1976); Bradshaw v. Swagerty, 1 Kan. App.2d 213, 216, 563 P.2d 511 (1977); Wiehe v. Kukal, 225 Kan. 478, 592 P.2d 860 (1979); Young v. Hecht, 3 Kan. App.2d 510, 514, 597 P.2d 682 (1979). It is apparent on reading these cases that our courts have not been flooded with fictitious claims or litigation in the field of trivialities. Restrictions on this litigation have been adequate. Out of the foregoing cases the law has developed and a cause of action has emerged in Kansas for the intentional infliction of mental distress. No bodily harm to the plaintiff is required to support such an action. One who by extreme and outrageous conduct intentionally or recklessly causes severe emotional distress to another is subject to liability for such emotional distress. Dawson v. Associates Financial Services Co., 215 Kan. at 822; Dotson v. McLaughlin, 216 Kan. at 209. Proof of four elements is required to establish the cause of action: (1) The conduct of defendant must be intentional or in reckless disregard of plaintiff; (2) the conduct must be extreme and outrageous; (3) there must be a causal connection between defendant's conduct and plaintiff's mental distress; and (4) plaintiff's mental distress must be extreme and severe. Liability for extreme emotional distress has two threshold requirements which must be met and which the court must, in the first instance, determine: (1) Whether the defendant's conduct may reasonably be regarded as so extreme and outrageous as to permit recovery; and (2) whether the emotional distress suffered 293*293 by plaintiff is in such extreme degree the law must intervene because the distress inflicted is so severe that no reasonable person should be expected to endure it.It was further said that liability may be found to exist generally in a case when the recitation of facts to an average citizen would arouse resentment against the actor, and lead that citizen to spontaneously exclaim, "Outrageous!" It should be understood that liability does not arise from mere insults, indignities, threats, annoyances, petty expressions, or other trivialities. Members of the public are necessarily expected and required to be hardened to a certain amount of criticism, rough language and to occasional acts and words that are definitely inconsiderate and unkind. The law should not intervene where someone's feelings merely are hurt. Freedom remains to express an unflattering opinion and to blow off relatively harmless steam which comes from an uncontrollable temper. Conduct to be a sufficient basis for an action to recover for emotional distress must be outrageous to the point that it goes beyond the bounds of decency and is utterly intolerable in a civilized society. The second threshold requirement which must be met and which the court must first determine as present is that the plaintiff's 294*294 emotional distress is sufficiently severe, genuine and extreme that no reasonable person should be expected to endure it. Emotional distress passes under various names such as mental suffering, mental anguish, nervous shock, and includes all highly unpleasant mental reactions, such as fright, horror, grief, shame, embarrassment, anger, chagrin, disappointment, and worry. However, it is only when emotional distress is extreme that possible liability arises. The extreme distress required must be reasonable and justified under the circumstances, and there can be no liability where the plaintiff has appeared to suffer exaggerated and unreasonable emotional distress, unless it results from a peculiar susceptibility to such distress of which the actor had knowledge. Dawson v. Associates Financial Services Co., 215 Kan. at 820; Restatement (Second) of Torts § 46 (1), comment f. The emotional distress must in fact exist, and it must be severe. Prosser, Law of Torts (4th ed. 1971) at 59. In the first instance the court must determine if these threshold requirements have been met. If the court determines from the pleadings, stipulations, admissions, and deposition of the plaintiff that reasonable fact finders might differ as to whether defendant's conduct was sufficiently extreme and outrageous as to subject him to liability for emotional distress, and if the court further determines plaintiff's emotional distress was such that reasonable fact finders might differ as to whether plaintiff's emotional distress was genuine and so severe and extreme as to result in liability, then and only then, it must be left to the jury to determine liability based on the evidence at trial. Dawson v. Associates Financial Services Co., 215 Kan. at 824; Dotson v. McLaughlin, 216 Kan. at 211; Bradshaw v. Swagerty, 1 Kan. App.2d at 216; Restatement (Second) of Torts § 46(1), comments h and j. Now let us turn to the particular facts alleged in this case and consider those elements necessary to a cause of action for mental distress. Was the conduct of defendant intentional? Based upon the allegations and the deposition testimony of plaintiff, the conduct of defendant was deliberate and intentional. We do not need to belabor that question to answer in the affirmative. Next, was defendant's conduct extreme and outrageous so as to meet the first threshold requirement to be decided by the judge? 295*295 We accept the plaintiff's allegations, which we must. The defendant had previously treated plaintiff as a patient, had disagreed with her decision to sue a former doctor who had left silk sutures in her body, had referred to plaintiff as a thief without a gun for bringing an action, had refused to cooperate with her in supporting her action, had then been sued by plaintiff, and had settled the case. Keeping this background in mind, we consider the conduct in issue. The plaintiff by deposition testified she was in the hospital, she was about to have surgery to repair a hernia, and while on the gurney waiting to be taken to the hospital operating room she was approached by the defendant-doctor. The doctor is alleged to have come into the room where plaintiff was being prepared for surgery, to have stood near where she was lying and, with a hostile look on his face, to have stated in a loud voice in the presence of a nurse and another patient, "I came here to tell her again. I don't like you, I don't like you. I wanted to tell you that before you went in there." With the foregoing in mind, was defendant's conduct sufficiently extreme and outrageous as to subject the doctor to liability for emotional distress? This court holds it was not. The defendant-doctor's dislike for plaintiff could not have come as a surprise to her. There was no doctor-patient relationship existing between plaintiff and defendant at that time. This was apparently a chance encounter between two persons, each seeking medical treatment. The defendant informed the plaintiff of his dislike for plaintiff who had previously sued him in court. This could not be entirely unexpected under the circumstances. We hold the conduct was not so extreme in degree, as to go beyond the bounds of decency, and be regarded as atrocious and utterly intolerable in a civilized society. The conduct falls in the area of mere insults, indignities, petty expressions to which members of society are necessarily expected and required to be hardened. The law should not intervene where someone's feelings merely are hurt. Freedom remains to express an unflattering opinion in an angry manner. Next we will consider the second threshold question. Was the emotional distress evidenced by plaintiff such that reasonable fact finders might differ as to whether it was genuine and so severe and extreme that no reasonable person should be expected to endure it? 296*296 Plaintiff's deposition testimony as to the nature and extent of her emotional distress was as follows: "Q. Well, what other damages, or what is it that you're claiming by way of damages in this case; how have you been injured or damaged by what occurred that day? "A. Because I'm upset about it; I'm still upset. I was upset then and I'm still upset. "Q. Well, is that all? "A. When I seen him down there I was afraid that maybe he would come in there and try to do something to me, I didn't know. "Q. You were going to sue him anyway? "A. No, no, no, no. "Q. Well, other than being upset, you were already upset before he ever said this. Is there anything else? "A. Upset before? "Q. You said you were always upset about this, and you were upset before he came in, isn't that right? "A. I just got partially calmed down from what he said to me the time before, and then he came back again and started harassing me again this last time. "Q. Well, my question is, in what way do you claim that you've been injured or damaged by what occurred while you were in the hospital on that day, January of this year? "A. I'm nervous from all of it. I don't know what kind of damage you're talking about. "Q. I'm trying to find out — I'm not talking about any, I'm trying to find out — "A. Didn't do no bodily harm to me." Then on cross-examination by her own attorney plaintiff testified that as a result of defendant's conduct she was scared and didn't want to go into surgery. The surgery was performed successfully. Although she expressed a continuing concern and nervousness resulting from the incident, such was the total extent of her emotional distress. There is no indication that psychiatric or further medical treatment or medications were necessary or that she was unable to function in a normal way thereafter. After a careful review of the entire record it is apparent that plaintiff's emotional distress resulting from the incident was not so severe that no reasonable person should be expected to endure it. There can be little doubt that plaintiff did express fright, embarrassment and worry but this appears of the nature which is not actionable. The emotional distress suffered by her was resentment and upset which normally results from acts and criticism which are inconsiderate and unkind. The law should not intervene where someone's feelings merely are hurt. Accordingly we hold that neither threshold requirement was 297*297 shown to have been met and summary judgment in favor of defendant was proper. The judgment of the Court of Appeals as to the tort of outrage is reversed. The judgment of the district court is affirmed, and summary judgment is hereby entered in favor of defendant. PRAGER and HERD, JJ ******************************************************* So are some of the AA'ers actions outrageous? Is AANY's policy of continuing to AAprove sexual predators and feloniously violent criminals to attend AA meetings anonymously outrageous? How about how some people are treated (mistreated) in 12 step treatment centers?

Comments

Pennywise's picture

"The tort of outrage," or more commonly called "the intentional infliction of emotional stress," (IIED) is usually a very hard case to prove. Moreover, as the Supreme Court of the Unites States recently ruled in Snyder v. Phelps, the First Amendment can serve as a defense:
The jury here was instructed that it could hold Westboro liable for intentional infliction of emotional distress based on a finding that Westboro's picketing was "outrageous." "Outrageousness," however, is a highly malleable standard with "an inherent subjectiveness about it which would allow a jury to impose liability on the basis of the jurors' tastes or views, or perhaps on the basis of their dislike of a particular expression." Hustler, 485 U.S., at 55, 108 S.Ct. 876 (internal quotation marks omitted). In a case such as this, a jury is "unlikely to be neutral with respect to the content of [the] speech," posing "a real danger of becoming an instrument for the suppression of ... `vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasan[t]'" expression. Bose Corp., 466 U.S., at 510, 104 S.Ct. 1949 (quoting New York Times, 376 U.S., at 270, 84 S.Ct. 710). Such a risk is unacceptable; "in public debate [we] must tolerate insulting, and even outrageous, speech in order to provide adequate `breathing space' to the freedoms protected by the First Amendment." Boos v. Barry, 485 U.S. 312, 322, 108 S.Ct. 1157, 99 L.Ed.2d 333 (1988) (some internal quotation marks omitted). What Westboro said, in the whole context of how and where it chose to say it, is entitled to "special protection" under the First Amendment, and that protection cannot be overcome by a jury finding that the picketing was outrageous. For all these reasons, the jury verdict imposing tort liability on Westboro for intentional infliction of emotional distress must be set aside.
131 S.Ct. 1207, 1219 (2011). Now, while it might certainly be possible to succeed under some circumstances in an IIED claim against individual steppers, I think it is HIGHLY UNLIKELY that a plaintiff would ever be able to prevail in an IIED claim against AANY. This is because (1) it would be extraordinarily difficult to show AANY acted in an outrageous manner, and (2) even if you could show AANY acted outrageously, AANY is entitled to some First Amendment protection. And coincidentally, it appears Fred Phelps was the lead attorney in the case you cited, and a defendant in the case I cited.
"One turned up the other day calling himself Boniface." ~ Bill Wilson
JR Harris's picture

You don't go after AANY, you go after the low hanging fruit. They have less money and clout, besides they normally have a disclaimer that they don't represent AA at the Interchurch. If you go after one Intergroup at a time, eventually you will erode the growth of the cult (which is shrinking worldwide) and take away the "Corrections Committees" that go on canned hunts to prisons offering the "AA get out of jail free card."

~You can not moderate the truth. Just don't lie, steal or make stuff up out of thin air and expect to get away with it without it being pointed out to you. It's really very simple.~

Pennywise's picture

Well, the intergroup is entitled to protections, too. You still have to find a way to hold the intergroup responsible for the acts of individual steppers. I don't think that is an easy task.
"One turned up the other day calling himself Boniface." ~ Bill Wilson
JR Harris's picture

Again, the low hanging fruit. Not the Intergroup, the special service workers that are PAID (as in compensated for prospect hunting) and identified in the US on the Tax form 990. Bring enough of these special service workers under scrutiny and no one will want to put their name on anything to do with the cult of Alcoholics Anonymous. It is the domino effect, you just need the first domino to fall.

~You can not moderate the truth. Just don't lie, steal or make stuff up out of thin air and expect to get away with it without it being pointed out to you. It's really very simple.~

Pennywise's picture

Interesting. I have not heard of this. Who are these paid prospect hunters that you speak of?
"One turned up the other day calling himself Boniface." ~ Bill Wilson
JR Harris's picture

Tradition 8 - Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever non-professional, but our service centers may employ special workers. Many (not all) Intergroups employ paid "office managers" or "secretaries." You have to check each Intergroup for these "special workers" which is rather easy in the US because of the Tax form 990. Look at the job descriptions of these "special workers" and they coordinate the stalking, capture and conversion of prospects for the cult of Alcoholics Anonymous.

~You can not moderate the truth. Just don't lie, steal or make stuff up out of thin air and expect to get away with it without it being pointed out to you. It's really very simple.~

Pennywise's picture

And how do you expect to hold these "special workers" responsible for the acts of individual steppers?
"One turned up the other day calling himself Boniface." ~ Bill Wilson
JR Harris's picture

In Nazi Germany, many people were involved in identifying people of the Jewish faith. If they refused, they would many times have paid for it with their life, it is called "desertion." These people along with the main characters such as Dr. Mengele were also brought to justice and they all just claimed they were following orders.... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dr._Mengele

~You can not moderate the truth. Just don't lie, steal or make stuff up out of thin air and expect to get away with it without it being pointed out to you. It's really very simple.~

Pennywise's picture

That's a pretty extreme comparison. I probably would not cite to those cases in a legal brief against AA. But regardless, those people were convicted of war crimes, no? Is recruiting people into AA, in itself, a crime in the USA?
"One turned up the other day calling himself Boniface." ~ Bill Wilson
JR Harris's picture

First we had the war on booze, then we had the war on drugs. Prohibition of alcohol caused so much crime and death that it was repealed. Now the war on drugs is doing the same thing. Define "war" and "war criminals."

~You can not moderate the truth. Just don't lie, steal or make stuff up out of thin air and expect to get away with it without it being pointed out to you. It's really very simple.~

Pennywise's picture

I'm sure you could research the definitions the international court uses, as I'm pretty sure they are codified. I'm also pretty sure The Hague would not consider people who man the desk at AA offices to be war criminals or engaged in war. Again, you can look this up if you really think it is a good argument to advance.
"One turned up the other day calling himself Boniface." ~ Bill Wilson
JR Harris's picture

Posted by Doctors4Justice at 16:57 Torture is the calculated physical and psychological assault on the individual, a practice used to instill fear, punish or degrade, to dehumanize, or to obliterate the self. It is often said that anyone who has been tortured remains tortured, long after the physical wounds have healed. Torture is the deliberate infliction of severe pain by one human being against another, thus it leaves particular kinds of mental and psychological scars. This trauma is different from other traumas because torture is a violation committed in secret and in spite of official denial. Many believe that torture only occurs in the most repressive regimes but the reality is that torture is widespread in all parts of the world. Although it is often perpetuated by police or security forces, it can also be carried out by armed forces, detaining authorities such as immigration officials, hospital staff, or prison wardens. Torture can be physical or psychological. New methods of torture are unfortunately being invented every year. Many can understand severe beatings, extraction of nails or teeth, burns, electric shocks, suspension, suffocation, excessive light, heat, cold or noise, sexual aggression (rape and other sexual violence), forced nudity, isolation and sensory deprivation as torture. But psychological torture can be just as traumatic and the psychological wounds of both physical and psychological torture last a lifetime.
Read the rest: http://www.doctors4justice.net/2011/01/melvin-semblers-legacy-of-torturi...

~You can not moderate the truth. Just don't lie, steal or make stuff up out of thin air and expect to get away with it without it being pointed out to you. It's really very simple.~

Pennywise's picture

I imagine, without looking it up, it would depend on whether the torture was committed in relation to war.
"One turned up the other day calling himself Boniface." ~ Bill Wilson
causeandeffect's picture

"Torture is the calculated physical and psychological assault on the individual, a practice used to instill fear, punish or degrade, to dehumanize, or to obliterate the self." That sounds like a perfect description of AA. AA makes no bones about obliterating the self and all of the rest of that quote is done. Sometimes its subtle in a more passive aggressive way and other times it's really overt. In fact, AA only thrives because it instills fear about not working the program or working it just exactly right, by relating all relapses to how someone didn't work a good enough 5th step or didn't let go of resentments, while at the same time claiming "Take what you want and leave the rest." People are punished and degraded for not spewing out the dogma correctly, your shares have to follow a form. And if you don't follow it, you can expect to be reprimanded after the meeting.
Pennywise's picture

All facetiousness aside, do you really think AA meetings qualify as torture in the manner described by the article?
"One turned up the other day calling himself Boniface." ~ Bill Wilson
Pennywise's picture

For context, here are some examples of torture listed in the article:
Some of the abusive methods of Straight Inc. included sleep deprivation, beatings, sexual humiliation, sexual assault, prolonged sitting or standing in forced positions, isolation, and detention for prolonged and indefinite periods of time, forcing one teen to abuse another, and prolonged denial of rest, sleep, food, water, adequate hygiene.
"One turned up the other day calling himself Boniface." ~ Bill Wilson
causeandeffect's picture

Are you asking me? Or someone else?
Pennywise's picture

I'm always interested in what you think, C&E. So what do you think here? Do you think subjecting someone to AA dogma qualifies as torture in the true sense of the word, or do you think calling it torture is an exaggeration? I'm not talking about what goes on in private after the meeting, mind you. I'm sure there have been stories posted here of one stepper brutally torturing another outside of the roomz. So I'm talking about the meetings themselves. Do you think sitting in an AA meeting listening to people preach about how worthless we are qualifies as torture?
"One turned up the other day calling himself Boniface." ~ Bill Wilson
causeandeffect's picture

Thanks Pennywise! I see this thread is about lawsuits. It’s a subject that bores me to tears as does the recent discussion about the structure of AA. Law is just not my strong suit so I won’t speculate on it. I believe that we can much more easily educate the general population that AA is nothing but superstitious faith healing nonsense that doesn’t work, and that alone can do the most help. I was simply commenting on that first sentence about torture. I’m not being facetious at all. Not in the least. I have literally seen such things being done, however subtle it may be at times. And I think the more subtle it is, sometimes, the more damage it can do to the psyche because it’s harder to recognize and fight against. However, much of the psychological abuses I saw were quite overt and that sentence perfectly describes it if you leave out the physical part. That goes for what is said in the meetings, as well as outside. I kinda look at it like this: If you shouldn’t say it to a child, it’s abuse. Therefore, preaching to people about how worthless they are is abuse. I think many alcoholics haven’t had an adulthood without their addiction and therefore don’t know themselves very well. When they take in the idea that they are just inherently bad people, they tend to live their lives that way, all while waiting for God to remove these AA induced defects of character, which means the effects of the abuse reaches into all aspects of their lives and effects other people. Whether or not it’s torture, eh, it varies.
Pennywise's picture

Thanks for the thoughtful reply! Yes, it is OK that law bores you. So we can stick to talking about educating the public in general. Now, if you want to call what goes on at AA meetings abuse (not in the legal sense but in the colloquial sense), I won't quibble. But when someone starts calling it torture, I begin to question that person's credibility or impartiality. That's no rip on J.R. or anything, I'm just saying that if I were a neutral observer who read such statements, it might cause me to wonder what else is being exaggerated. So I, personally, do not think it is conducive to public education to argue that sitting in AA meetings is a form of torture.
"One turned up the other day calling himself Boniface." ~ Bill Wilson
causeandeffect's picture

I dunno, Pennywise. Those meetings were pretty torturous sometimes! LOL! I guess I'd invite the public to try a few meetings. ; )
causeandeffect's picture

Another thing I regard as torture is the snail's pace that these pages are loading. ; )
live_free_or_die's picture

Is it possible to sue an individual AA member under these laws. Say a Mike Quinones, of the Midtown Group, as an example. Of course, for discussion purposes you must assume that Mike Q is still alive, which he isn't. Thank DoorKnob!! Also, is it possible to sue an employee/counselor/owner of a treatment center that allows intentional abuse and or participates in it? Court cases and the opinions are to be used not only to understand the law as stated in the case opinion, but to gleam how to fit facts & circumstances of future situations to your advantage, yes? After all, not all courts opinions are correct. As I have said previously, there are at times bad decisions that come out of a court case. Anyway, anybody have more thoughts?
LFOD's Blog http://www.orange-papers.org/forum/blog/10857 ©2014 AA:MyNotGodHasItCovered® http://www.expaa.org/ http://noforcedaa.weebly.com/ http://12stepprograms.weebly.com/ NOT AA: Rational Recovery, SOS, HAMS
live_free_or_die's picture

How many people, I wonder, go in to a 28 day rehab stay and never leave?
LFOD's Blog http://www.orange-papers.org/forum/blog/10857 ©2014 AA:MyNotGodHasItCovered® http://www.expaa.org/ http://noforcedaa.weebly.com/ http://12stepprograms.weebly.com/ NOT AA: Rational Recovery, SOS, HAMS
Pennywise's picture

1) Of course it is possible. You can sue almost anyone for almost anything. But filing a lawsuit is not the same as winning a lawsuit. But by "sue," I assume you mean successfully sue. 2) It is certainly possible that someone could prevail in such a lawsuit. In fact, it is possible that any lawsuit, no matter how far-fetched, could be successful. Thus, I can comment only on likelihood of success. 3) I don't think it is very likely at all that a party would prevail in an IIED claim against AANY. It is possible, but extraordinarily unlikely. 4) I do think, depending on the facts, there might be a very strong IIED claim against individual AA members. It's a great avenue, and one I've thought about. It all depends on the specific facts, but I think pursing such a claim would be worthwhile under certain circumstances. 5) As applied to a treatment center, I also think it could be a good claim. I think the primary claim would be malpractice or breaching some special duty of care, but it might also be a good idea to tack on an IIED claim. Indeed, I would love to see a plaintiff win a case like this, and I think it could happen. This is where I think we should direct most of our efforts.
"One turned up the other day calling himself Boniface." ~ Bill Wilson
Pennywise's picture

Well, many never leave in their minds.
"One turned up the other day calling himself Boniface." ~ Bill Wilson
Pennywise's picture

Thanks to internet phones, they've gotten much more tolerable!
"One turned up the other day calling himself Boniface." ~ Bill Wilson
live_free_or_die's picture

And for the person that has serious issues with never getting that experience out of their minds out to sue tha effing pants of these people. Put 'em out of business. Unfortunately, I don't think many care to revisit their trama and open up those wounds. How can I sue a "treatment" center for the benefit of another?
LFOD's Blog http://www.orange-papers.org/forum/blog/10857 ©2014 AA:MyNotGodHasItCovered® http://www.expaa.org/ http://noforcedaa.weebly.com/ http://12stepprograms.weebly.com/ NOT AA: Rational Recovery, SOS, HAMS
causeandeffect's picture

"Unfortunately, I don't think many care to revisit their trama and open up those wounds." Absolutely! If humiliation tactics were used against them in rehab, as often is in those who still believe in confrontational so-called "therapy," taking it to court would be just picking at a potentially very deep wound involving more humiliation. Fortunately there's PLENTY of evidence of harm and ineffectiveness where confrontation is concerned. Eventually, some strong person will sue.
Pennywise's picture

How can I sue a "treatment" center for the benefit of another? Probably can't unless it's your kid or something. But you do remember those taxpayer standing First Amendment cases, right?
"One turned up the other day calling himself Boniface." ~ Bill Wilson
live_free_or_die's picture

Yep. I remember those cases most definitely. In fact, I think there might be a way to sue Hazelden. I know Hazelden receives federal funds. Hazelden teaches 12 step theology. My taxpayer dollars are going to fund Hazelden for something.
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live_free_or_die's picture

Probably can't unless it's your kid or something. So, I would need to marry a redhead with a kid in rehab?
LFOD's Blog http://www.orange-papers.org/forum/blog/10857 ©2014 AA:MyNotGodHasItCovered® http://www.expaa.org/ http://noforcedaa.weebly.com/ http://12stepprograms.weebly.com/ NOT AA: Rational Recovery, SOS, HAMS
Pennywise's picture

Yeah, but remember the federal funding must be direct. If a patient gets federal funds to go to treatment and then CHOOSES to go to a 12 Step based facility, there is no violation (unless there were no secular options available to choose from). So the funds must go pretty much straight from the government to the treatment center for there to be a violation. In other words, a private person's choice on where to direct government funds granted to him or her would break the link between religion and state. I have no idea how Hazelden receives any government funds.
"One turned up the other day calling himself Boniface." ~ Bill Wilson
live_free_or_die's picture
Pennywise's picture

A good summary from Teen Ranch v. Udow, 389 F.Supp.2d 827, 833-34 (W.D.Mich.2005), aff'd, 479 F.3d 403 (6th Cir. 2007) (agreeing with the district court's reasoning for granting summary judgment in favor of the Family Independence Agency (FIA) on the ground that the opt out provision of the applicable law did not provide the children placed in the care of the FIA with "true private choice"):
The State contends that its funding of Teen Ranch is direct because it contracts with and pays the funds directly to Teen Ranch. (Def. Br in Reply at 4-5). Contrary 834*834 to the State Defendants' assertions, it appears that most courts would agree that funding is not "direct" simply because it is paid directly from the State to the faith-based organization rather than by the individual through a voucher, coupon or certificate. The plurality of the Supreme Court noted in Mitchell v. Helms, 530 U.S. 793, 120 S.Ct. 2530, 147 L.Ed.2d 660 (2000), that although previous cases had emphasized the distinction between direct and indirect aid, more recent cases have addressed the purpose of preventing subsidization of religion by focusing on the principle of "private choice." Id. at 815-16, 120 S.Ct. 2530 (Thomas, J., plurality). "Although the presence of private choice is easier to see when the aid literally passes though the hands of individuals ... there is no reason why the Establishment Clause requires such form." Id. at 816, 120 S.Ct. 2530. See also McCallum, 324 F.3d at 882 ("so far as the policy of the establishment clause is concerned, there is no difference between giving the voucher recipient a piece of paper that directs the public agency to pay the service provider and the agency's asking the recipient to indicate his preference and paying the provider whose service he prefers."); McCallum, 179 F.Supp.2d at 970 ("A plurality of the Supreme Court has held that as long as the individual selects the publicly funded program freely, thus making the funding truly indirect, it is irrelevant whether the funding passes through the hands of the individual first or goes directly to the selected program."). The Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld programs against Establishment Clause challenges where the state funding of the programs arose out of "true private choice" or the "genuine and independent choices of private individuals." Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, 536 U.S. 639, 649, 122 S.Ct. 2460, 153 L.Ed.2d 604 (2002) (citing Mueller v. Allen, 463 U.S. 388, 103 S.Ct. 3062, 77 L.Ed.2d 721 (1983); Witters v. Washington Dept. of Servs. for Blind, 474 U.S. 481, 106 S.Ct. 748, 88 L.Ed.2d 846 (1986); Zobrest v. Catalina Foothills Sch. Dist., 509 U.S. 1, 113 S.Ct. 2462, 125 L.Ed.2d 1 (1993)). "Under our Establishment Clause precedent, the link between government funds and religious training is broken by the independent and private choice of recipients." Locke, 540 U.S. at 719, 124 S.Ct. 1307. "[W]hen public funding flows to faith-based organizations solely as a result of the `genuinely independent and private choices of individuals,' the funding is considered indirect." McCallum, 179 F.Supp.2d at 970 (citing Agostini v. Felton, 521 U.S. 203, 226, 117 S.Ct. 1997, 138 L.Ed.2d 391 (1997)). "When a program receives indirect funding, it is the individual participant, and not the state, who chooses to support the religious organization, reducing the likelihood that the public funding has the primary effect of advancing religion in violation of the establishment clause." Id. It is evident from these cases that the critical feature distinguishing direct funding from indirect funding is whether the individual has selected the program through true private choice. The Establishment Clause is not violated if the state money goes to a religious organization only as a result of the genuinely independent and private choices of an individual. In other words, private choice transforms constitutionally troublesome "direct" funding into constitutionally unobjectionable "indirect" funding.
"One turned up the other day calling himself Boniface." ~ Bill Wilson
live_free_or_die's picture

I understand the point in your case you presented. However, at this point I do not know how Hazelden spends the federal grant money they get, but I will find out. Any recipients of federal grants over a certain dollar amount are required to be audited by an independent CPA. This audit is often times called a "Yellow Book" audit and it is an audit of the specific grant monies and how the money was spent.
LFOD's Blog http://www.orange-papers.org/forum/blog/10857 ©2014 AA:MyNotGodHasItCovered® http://www.expaa.org/ http://noforcedaa.weebly.com/ http://12stepprograms.weebly.com/ NOT AA: Rational Recovery, SOS, HAMS
Pennywise's picture

Excellent! Yeah, I have no clue at all about how Hazelden is funded.
"One turned up the other day calling himself Boniface." ~ Bill Wilson