“Lets spend more time and money on making sure people suffer enough, yeah that is just great.”, diz um comentário ao post do blog donde tirei a ideia para este post. Sou roteirista certificado e sempre me interessam, nas confecções das tramas, as trocas entre crime, castigo e novas tecnologias, e como a ciência pode ajudar a humanidade a viver num mundo finalmente mais justo. É tudo muito inspirador para alguém que vive de contar histórias. Um criminoso desgraçado e devidamente sentenciado, digamos, para a vida, reflete no cárcere sobre os atos que lhe causaram a queda e lhe escancararam sua miséria interior. É como se seu corpo fosse uma coisa, sua cabeça outra, e os mistérios do vento e das chuvas ainda outra, e nada se conversasse. Tenta como um herói acordar a cada dia, ciente de estar preso, medicado e incomunicável, além de torturável a qualquer momento, num mundo despedaçado. Então algo surpreendente acontece e o criminoso espanta os cientistas que monitoram seu sofrimento. Ele não só não sofre tanto quanto se esperava como passa a acordar cada vez mais disposto e simpático. Cativa seus carrascos ao ponto de um dia lhe oferecerem uma cadeira no conselho dos novos punidores, os que botarão a sociedade nos eixos e limparão de vez o mundo das sujeiras e injustiças. Encafifado no bom sentido, o prisioneiro segura o riso e pergunta se pode trocar tudo por aulas profissionais de balé. Eis um bom primeiro ato. O post traz um recente estudo publicado no Emory Law Journal, donde selecionei um trecho:

“b.    Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

The tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress limits recovery to those cases where “extreme and outrageous conduct intentionally or recklessly causes severe emotional distress.” The bar to recovery is high. As a comment to the Restatement (Second) of Torts notes: “Liability has been found only where the conduct has been so outrageous in character, and so extreme in degree, as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency, and to be regarded as atrocious, and utterly intolerable in a civilized community.” There are two principal reasons for limiting recovery for intentional inflictions of distress to only the most egregious violations. First, the conduct must be “extreme and outrageous” and cause “severe” distress because not all intentional inflictions of distress should generate tort liability. Making someone the butt of a mild joke may intentionally inflict subjective distress, but the distress may not be severe enough to warrant state intrusion into our daily lives. In such cases, we limit the scope of the tort, not because we cannot measure subjective distress, but rather because we can measure it well enough to decide that the conduct at issue is too minor to warrant state intervention.

The second principal reason for limiting the scope of the tort, however, is related to measurement difficulties. Courts raise barriers to recovery for intentional infliction of distress partly out of fear of bogus claims. An early case to grant recovery for intentional infliction of emotional distress, for example, warned about “trumped-up claims” that rely only on “subjective symptoms”:

On the whole we see no good reason why a wrongful invasion of a legal right, causing an injury to the body or mind which reputable physicians recognize and can trace with reasonable certainty to the act as its true cause, should not give rise to a right of action against the wrongdoer, although there was no visible hurt at the time of the act complained of. Of course, there is always a possibility of trumped-up claims if there may be a recovery when no evidence of bodily injury can be discovered immediately. However, the matter is in the control of the trial courts, and verdicts for plaintiffs for any substantial amounts, when based chiefly on proof of subjective symptoms, will not usually be allowed to stand.

While courts are clearly concerned about bogus claims in intentional infliction of distress cases, those fears should be reduced as we get better at identifying and assessing genuine cases of emotional distress. As claims of emotional distress become harder to fake or exaggerate, courts have less reason to demand the more readily observable proxies for distress that they frequently require today.”

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