Editor: Christopher J. RobinetteWidener Univ. School of Law
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Wednesday, August 13, 2008
WSJ Law Blog has details of the judge's ruling denying the defendant's motion to dismiss; we posted on the case back in 2006 with the background.
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I can't believe I am defending lawyer Nancy Grace here.
1) Plaintiff Problems. Should the immature, impulsive response of the plaintiff get compensated? The guest may or may not be innocent. If guilty, her estate should not be rewarded with a money settlement. Does the innocent party often commit suicide or more often the guilty party who cannot face accountability? There are no answers to these questions. So, there an even chance the guest was guilt of wrongdoing. One also wants to know about the familial genetics and predispositions to suicide. The defendant should not pay for a genetic defect. Suicide is strongly inherited, even when compared to the offspring of non-suicidal families who have even greater severity of depression. Suicide has its own inheritance pattern independent of depression or emotional distress.
2) Policy and Precedent. Nancy Grace has immunity from the First Amendment Free Speech Clause, Freedom of the Press Clause. The plaintiff was a public figure per se. Any tort claim must overcome insurmountable NY Times barriers to defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress, namely proof of actual malice. Actual malice means the defendant must admit knowledge of the falsehood of any allegations. This admission can be found in discovery.
3) Tort Elements. For the past 1000 years, the suicide act broke the chain of causality between defendant conduct and the death. The suicide is an intentional act by the plaintiff. In the past two decades, appellate courts have made exceptions to this view for defendants who held themselves out to have special skills (therapists), had control of the body (jailers), or had special duties to the plaintiff (psychiatrists). These special duties are bogus and anti-scientific themselves. However, let's assume they are correct. Did Nancy Grace have any special duty to the plaintiff? Did she have any power over the defendant, enough, and of sufficient duration to intentionally inflict emotional distress?
Posted by: Suicide Malpractice | Aug 13, 2008 11:26:50 AM
Nancy Grace is not a lawyer anymore. If you understood the facts, she had to sign off, contractually, when they threw her out on her butt from Atlanta to never attempt to use her license in the future, thus preventing a disbarrment the city of Atlanta was willing to proceed with. That's some of the same reasons why she has been fired from three shows in recent months.
Posted by: Michelle from Madison | Sep 7, 2008 9:32:07 AM
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