iwanuka v. Bakilana

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The tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress is defined as an extreme and outrageous act intentionally committed that results in severe emotional distress to another. To be actionable, the conduct must be so extreme and outrageous that it exceeds the bounds of decency accepted by society. In the case of Kiwanuka v. Bakilana, Bakilana caused emotional distress to Ms. Kiwanuka by threatening her with deportation, making her work twenty-four hours a day, and grabbing her by the shirt collar and taking her passport and papers. Kiwanuka had to work twenty-four hours a day and was not allowed to leave the house. She was kept isolated from other people, therefore causing more emotional distress by not having contact with others. The FBI recorded Bakilana threatening Kiwanuka with deportation and yelling at her. This evidence helped Kiwanuka’s case, and the judge ruled in favor of the plaintiff. The judge ruled for the plaintiff on emotional distress and this outrageous conduct of Ms. Bakilana, and granted her restitution of her wages. However, Mr. Rwehumbiza was cleared of liability as his conduct was merely negligent and not willful, wanton, or vindictive.

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As per the Business Law Today, 10th Edition (pg. 99), intentional infliction of emotional distress is a tort that involves purposefully and excessively causing severe emotional distress to someone else. Nonetheless, for this behavior to have legal consequences, it must exceed accepted norms of decency in society.

Bakilana intentionally participated in severe actions with the intention of causing emotional distress to Ms. Kiwanuka. These actions included threatening her with deportation, enforcing a non-stop 24-hour work schedule, physically attacking her by grabbing her shirt collar, and seizing important documents like her passport.

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Bakilana has violated the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (18 U.S.C.A. §§ 1589; 1590) by forcing Kiwanuka to work against their will, while also creating a hostile environment through continuous threats of deportation, which ultimately results in a state of servitude.

The Thirteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits slavery and involuntary servitude, which Kiwanuka experienced through constant work and confinement in her residence. This led to isolation and increased emotional distress due to lack of social interaction. The FBI recorded Bakilana’s threats of deportation and aggressive behavior towards Kiwanuka, providing crucial evidence for her case. As a result, the judge ruled in favor of Kiwanuka as the plaintiff.

I agree with Judge Lamberth’s decision in the lawsuit. The plaintiff was awarded compensation for emotional distress caused by Ms. Bakilana and also received restitution for unpaid wages. If I were the presiding judge, I would have granted the plaintiff a larger amount of money and imposed a probationary period on Bakilana that exceeds two years.

In my opinion, Mr. Rwehumbiza cannot be exempted from responsibility in this case. I believe he played a role in allowing his wife’s extreme behavior towards the plaintiff. Furthermore, I think he is guilty of not providing fair wages and permitting his wife to confiscate the plaintiff’s documents and passport. Both Mr. Rwehumbiza and his wife were employers and thus should have been held accountable for the well-being of the plaintiff. By threatening her with deportation, he forced Ms. Kiwanuka into involuntary servitude and forced labor. However, based on the case Hughes v. Moore, 214 Va. 27, 197 S.E.2d 214 (1973), recovery for emotional disturbance alone is not possible where the conduct is merely negligent, rather than willful, wanton, or vindictive, and lacks physical impact. As Mr. Rwehumbiza was found to be negligent rather than willful or vindictive, he was dismissed from the case.

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iwanuka v. Bakilana. (2016, Nov 05). Retrieved from


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