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Two staff members fired from the Hartford, Conn., plaintiffs’ firm Rubenstein & Sendy can’t sue their former employer for intentional infliction of emotional distress, Hartford Superior Court Judge Carl J. Schuman ruled recently. Plaintiffs Regina Canty and Lisa Wilson brought suit against Rubenstein & Sendy and its two name partners, Bruce D. Rubenstein and Katherine E. Sendy, in June 1998, claiming they were terminated after Canty took a stand against the firm’s allegedly illegal and unethical practices. Charges leveled by the pair include allegations that the firm spread false and malicious claims that Canty was fired after she left a photocopy of a hunting knife on a co-worker’s desk. But dismissing two counts of their 16-count complaint, Schuman found the firm’s alleged actions fail to constitute “extreme and outrageous” conduct — an essential element needed to bring a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress. “What remains in this case,” the judge concluded, “is a bitter dispute about job terminations based on allegations of work-related misconduct. False allegations in this context,” Schuman wrote, “do not, in the court’s view, constitute extreme and outrageous behavior.” The firm employed Canty in various capacities from September 1995 to May 1998. In her and Wilson’s Feb. 26, 2001 amended complaint, they allege that, on March 27, 1998, Canty confronted the defendants over allegedly illegal and unethical practices at the firm. Those practices included its alleged payment of monetary referral fees to employees, clients and members of the public who solicited business on Rubenstein & Sendy’s behalf, as well as its alleged fabrication of personal injury and workers’ compensation clients’ medical histories. John B. Farley, of Hartford’s Halloran & Sage, who represents the firm in the case, said it was inappropriate for him to respond to the allegations. The plaintiffs claim the firm summoned the police on May 3, 1998, and again the next day, on allegedly false reports that Canty demanded that another employee go outside and fight her, displayed a photocopy of a hunting knife on an employee’s desk, and removed files from the firm’s computer system. Wilson was terminated, along with Canty, on May 4, based on allegedly false claims that she took part in the disruptions, according to the complaint. As of press time, Canty’s and Wilson’s lawyer, Stephen F. McEleney, of Hartford’s McEleney & McGrail, had not returned telephone calls placed to him.

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