Procedural Posture

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Procedural Posture

Plaintiff widow sued defendant university regents for, inter alia, breach of contract. The Orange County Superior Court, California, sustained the regents' demurrers to the widow's causes of action for breach of contract, breach of special duty, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and granted summary judgment to the regents on her claims for fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and negligence. The widow appealed.

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Overview

The widow's husband had decided to donate his body to the university's medical school upon his death. The widow alleged the university failed to keep track of her husband's body, failed to contact her before disposing of her husband's remains, and mishandled or otherwise treated the remains in a disrespectful manner while using it for purposes other than teaching or scientific research. The instant court concluded that the trial court properly granted summary judgment on the widow's claim the university negligently mishandled her husband's remains because the widow presented no evidence the university mistreated the remains. The university's failure to keep track of the remains did not constitute mishandling. The widow's personal reliance on statements made by a university official was irrelevant to whether the university fraudulently induced her husband into donating his body. Because the widow did not allege that the university directed the allegedly outrageous actions primarily at her, or that it performed the alleged acts in her presence, the trial court did not err in sustaining demurrers to the widow's cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Outcome

The judgment was affirmed.

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