The Appellate Group

A.W. v. Marelli

A.W. v. Marelli, 2024 UT App 8 (Mortensen, J.)

Civil Procedure / Statutory Interpretation

A daughter told her mother when she was a teenager that her stepfather had sexually abused her. The mother maintained that the abuse did not occur. The daughter cut all ties with the mother, but the mother continued to send her letters and make unwelcomed contact with the daughter. Eventually, the daughter sued her estranged mother for negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent sexual abuse. The district court granted summary judgment in the mother’s favor. The Utah Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s decision, holding:

  • The mother’s communications with the daughter, although at times poorly executed, show a mother trying to reconcile with a daughter and do not violate generally accepted standards of decency and morality; thus, the daughter’s intentional infliction of emotional distress claim was properly dismissed.
  • The court properly dismissed the negligent infliction of emotional distress claim because attempts by a parent to reconcile with a child is not an activity fraught with emotional harm to the child.
  • Judicial Tip: It was well within the court’s authority to ascertain mother’s intent in sending various communications to daughter when reasonable minds could not differ.

Read the full court opinion