In a decision Tuesday, Judge Engelmayer dismissed the complaint of a legal secretary, Valerie Medcalf, who, through her access to the emails of her boss George Walsh, discovered emails in which Mr. Walsh’s wife said unkind things about her, including that Mrs. Walsh suspected Ms. Medcalf of exaggerating her postpartum depression. Judge Engelmayer dismissed Ms. Medcalf’s defamation claims because the emails were sent from one spouse to another, and not “published.” He dismissed her claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress because the emails were “banal,” and not intended to cause severe harm:
[The complaint] does not recite facts that give rise to the plausible inference that the defendants intended to cause, or disregarded the substantial probability of causing, severe emotional distress through their spousal exchanges by email. The substance of the emails in question is unremarkable: The Walshes’ criticisms of Medcalf are banal, not lethal. And the context in which they were sent is such that the Walshes did not have good reason to expect Medcalf ever to read them: Although Medcalf was granted access to George’s email account to access emails relating to George’s client work at [the law firm] as directed by George, there is no plausible allegation that Medcalf had good reason to review spousal communications in that account. That her curiosity or inclination to snoop led her to do so does not give her a cause of action that otherwise is lacking.