TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Widener Commonwealth Law School

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Nancy Grace Sued

Embodiment of evil TV host Nancy Grace has been sued by the parents of Melinda Duckett, the mother of a missing boy.  Duckett underwent a rather harsh interview by Grace that at least suggested suspicion of Ducket in her son's disappearance.

Overlawyered is unsurprisingly skeptical.  I'm not so sure that -- if the facts as alleged are true -- there's not a decent intentional infliction of emotional distress claim, though certainly I'm hesitant to go so far as to find liability for the suicide.  In general, of course, unless the decedent acted while insane or suffering delirium, legal cause in most states precludes liability for suicide.  I haven't looked at Florida law, but I'd be surprised if it's different.

The key fact for a claim based on something short of the suicide to me in the complaint is the alleged bait and switch, where Ms. Duckett apparently believed she was going on the show only to publicize her son's disappearance, not to undergo a cross-examination.  The complaint certainly focuses on Ms. Duckett's suicide, but presumably the plaintiffs could prove some level of distress short of the suicide (perhaps using the suicide as evidence of that distress, even if no recovery was allowed for her death itself).

The claim for IIED asserted by the parents in their own right, based on the decision to air the interview within hours of Ms. Duckett's suicide, seems somewhat more problematic, in particular in showing intent (even under the reckless disregard standard) and causation.

In any event, if you cover intentional torts late in the course, or if you're just looking for a good IIED hypothetical, this might be worth considering.

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Joe Scarborough’s show of MSNBC broadcasted another show that indicates that there is now a “suspect” (person-of-interest) in the Trenton Duckett case, and that the investigation is still on-going as of this date. The clip also confirms that “Nancy Grace is scared to death” about the Duckett lawsuit (and more lawsuits) coming against her and CNN for Nancy’s unprofessional and illegal conduct documented thus far in the Duckett case. If criminal charges come against Nancy, wonder if CNN will cover what Nancy gets served for dinner after she goes to prison? Hope the tickets are available soon for the upcoming trials against Nancy for her direct connection in the deaths of more people who were never criminally convicted including Melinda Duckett. Maybe Nancy will receive “chicken-on-bone” meal with a small cup of ice-cream.” If that is the case, maybe the public should conjure up a public-out-cry against Nancy for getting chicken and ice-cream in prison where she will likely also have access to a television too, but not to cable-television to watch Nancy’s replacement on her show. Ohhh, too bad Nancy. People have told you Nancy, you cannot continue to victimize the victims. Sounds like Nancy’s civil-illegal actions are finally catching up to Nancy, as it does with most criminals.

Posted by: Michelle from Madison | Dec 26, 2006 3:42:28 PM

The hateful, spitefull, fist pounding cross examination by Nancy Grace of the young mother Melinda Duckett by a mere TV Host was dispicable, abusive and harsh. That is the job of law enforcement......not a TV Host. Then to run the video over and over and over was over the top.
It appears she without doubt caused great emotional distress and total disregard for Ms. Duckett's family.
Nancy Grace herself is a very angry person that perhaps
should not be allowed to be on national TV fist pounding and berating people which is cruel and unkind. She cares more about her agenda and ratings than she does about human beings.

Posted by: william | Nov 15, 2007 4:36:54 AM

I’ve been a HUGE fan of Nancy Grace for as long as I can remember. If I am ever suspected of committing a felonious offense, I hope Nancy personal gives me the business. I wish I had a show so I could wear lots of mascara and make people that I don’t like feel bad about themselves and commit suicide! Nancy Grace is awesome!

Posted by: Stranger Randy | Nov 24, 2007 2:16:39 PM

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