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Court Rejects Free Exercise Defense To Infliction of Emotional Distress Claim

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

In Lawrence v. Treybig(TX App., June 20, 2019), a Texas state appeals court affirmed a trial court jury’s award of nominal damages and a permanent injunction against Arthur Lawrence who had been hired by a wealthy family as a basketball coach for their son, Cody Treybig, when he was nine years old. Lawrence remained in that position for six years during which time he convinced Cody of Lawrence’s paranoid religious views:

Lawrence … told Cody that Jimmy Treybig, Cody’s father, was a high-level member of an evil society called the Illuminati; that Cody’s school, his hometown of Austin, and colleges in general were full of evil Illuminati members; that the rapture was imminent; that Cody’s parents intended to have an RFID5 chip implanted into Cody’s body, which would damn him to hell; that the RFID chip would control Cody’s mind and would contain cyanide that could be used to kill him if he resisted; and that Cody’s parents and brother hated him and were evil.

In the suit against Lawrence for intentional infliction of emotional distress, the court rejected Lawrence’s free exercise defense:

Lawrence argues that the jury could not determine whether his conduct was extreme and outrageous without weighing the veracity of his religious beliefs and that the trial court therefore should have dismissed Cody’s claims. However, whether Lawrence’s views are sincerely held or whether he believed that he was helping to save Cody from damnation is irrelevant under the facts of this case, in which Lawrence’s conduct, no matter its motivation, was extreme and outrageous.

The court affirmed the award of damages of $4 and an injunction barring Lawrence from coming within 1,000 feet of Cody or contacting Cody or his family.

You can learn more about this issue here.

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