Texas Woman Prevails in Marital Cruelty Case
(CN) - A Texas woman whose husband called her a fat lesbian and allegedly said he was "thinking of ways to kill her" correctly prevailed on her claim for emotional distress, a state appeals court ruled.
Marivel Castro and Juan Francisco Castro were married in 2007. After a miscarriage in early 2008, the couple welcomed a son at the end of the year.
Marivel's daughter from a previous marriage also lived with the couple.
After a stormy marriage, Juan filed for divorce in 2010. Marivel fired back with claims of assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Marivel said that on their honeymoon in Jamaica, Juan called her a "bitch" for having her hair braided and said his first wife and his kids from that marriage would always come first.
According to Marivel, Juan did not comfort her after the miscarriage and denied that she had been pregnant. When she became pregnant again, Juan refused to allow Marivel to buy anything for the baby, alleging stating that the baby would die before birth.
Marivel also stated that Juan called her fat and said she was a lesbian after making friends at a church women's retreat. She also reported that Juan called their anniversary "a day of mourning" and that he had pointed a gun at her once when he did not like the tone of her question.
In addition, Marivel said that Juan raped her in May 2009, and that he physically attacked her a month later. She said that Juan said he had to leave her or he would kill her, and that he was "thinking of ways" to kill her.
Marivel's daughter testified that Juan had attacked her mother and that he said she "deserved that kind of thing."
Juan denied that some of the physical abuse took place. He also called his ex-wife and a witness; she said Juan had never abused her.
Another of Juan's witnesses said that he did console Marivel after the miscarriage.
Juan took the stand and denied that he had pointed a gun at Marivel and denied that he had threatened to kill her.
The jury ruled that Juan had not sexually assaulted Marivel, but that he had inflicted emotional distress on her. Maribel received $30,000 for past mental anguish and $45,000 for future mental anguish.
Juan appealed, stating that his conduct did not rise to the level of infliction of emotional distress. The 13th Texas Court of Appeals, based in Corpus Christi and Edinburg, disagreed.
"The evidence in this case demonstrated one of those rare instances in which a defendant inflicted on a plaintiff conduct so unusual that the victim had no other recognized theory of recovery but IIED," Justice Nelda V. Rodriguez wrote on the court's behalf.
Despite the "highly contradictory" testimony, Rodriguez stated that Juan's conduct was "sufficiently extreme and outrageous" to warrant a finding of IIED.
"A reasonable juror could have concluded that appellant's conduct was more than mere insults, indignities or threats or discord normally resulting from an unhealthy marriage. The jury could have reasonably concluded that appellant's conduct was extreme and outrageous, atrocious conduct that should not be tolerated in a civilized community," he added.
The court also upheld the award of mental anguish, based on Marivel's testimony that she doesn't trust men and can't have a healthy relationship with a man. When asked how she reacts when she hears a romantic song, she replied, "It's fake. It doesn't exist."