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Elite DC Private School Sued for $10M Over Affair

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By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on May 19, 2011 9:46 AM

Elite D.C. private school Sidwell Friends School is being sued for $10 million by Arthur Newmeyer, the father of a 5-year-old student at the prestigious institution.

Newmeyer alleges that the school was negligent and inflicted emotional distress on him after he found out that his wife was having an affair with school psychologist James Huntington.

Huntington had worked at Sidwell Friends for 10 years, but was fired last February. The complaint states his firing took place about a year after Newmeyer raised complaints about Huntington, reports The New York Times.

Newmeyer alleges that he shared some of the sexually explicit e-mails exchanged between Newmeyer's wife and Huntington, which spurred the school board into action, reports The Washington Post.

According to the complaint, Newmeyer's wife allegedly arranged for her daughter to be evaluated by Huntington, with sessions taking place in the Newmeyer home. Huntington continued to hold sessions with Newmeyer's daughter even while she began having an affair with him, reports ABC News.

Liza Huntington, Huntington's ex-wife, found out about the affair and told Newmeyer after Huntington refused to end it, reports ABC News.

Newmeyer and his wife had a "commuter marriage" - Newmeyer worked in Florida, but commuted home to D.C. on the weekends to be with his wife and daughters, reports ABC News. Newmeyer and his wife are now in the midst of a divorce after 10 years of marriage.

Newmeyer partially alleges that he suffered great emotional distress because the affair was notorious in the community. Newmeyer claims that Huntington's daughter, also enrolled at Sidwell Friends School, told classmates that her "daddy's girlfriend" was Newmeyer's wife, reports The New York Times.

It would likely be difficult for Newmeyer to win a case based on intentional infliction of emotional distress against Sidwell Friends. Intentional infliction of emotional distress requires that the defendant either intended to cause great emotional distress, or was reckless in causing great emotional distress.

Sidwell Friends likely never intended to cause Newmeyer great emotional distress. It is also unlikely that they were reckless - which requires that they know that great emotional distress is going to occur, but proceeded anyway.

More likely, Sidwell Friends School could be found negligent in supervising their employees, or negligent in following up on claims or rumors regarding Huntington and Newmeyer's wife.

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