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California Family Can Sue Highway Patrol Over Photos (Unbelievable Story, must read)
Courthouse News ^ | 02/03/2010 | Courthouse News

Posted on 02/03/2010 5:27:27 PM PST by The Magical Mischief Tour

SANTA ANA, Calif. (CN) - Two California Highway Patrol officers who emailed gruesome photos of a decapitated 18-year-old accident victim to their friends on Halloween, "for pure shock value," must answer to claims brought by the victim's family after the images "were strewn about the Internet and spit back at family members, accompanied by hateful messages," a California appeals court ruled.

Justice Richard Aronson revived the family's privacy claims and chided the officers for their allegedly "morally deficient" behavior. Officers Thomas O'Donnell and Aaron Reich emailed nine photos of Nikki Catsouras to their families and friends on Halloween night, and photos started "popping up in thousands of Web sites" across the United States and the United Kingdom, the ruling states.

The morbid photos were then "spit back" at the victim's family with taunts about their daughter. Catsouras' father, Christos Catsouras, received disturbing emails, including one entitled "Woo Hoo Daddy" that said, "Hey Daddy I'm still alive." "[F]amily members have a common law privacy right in the death images of a decedent," Justice Aronson ruled, overturning the lower court's decisions sustaining the officers' demurrers and dismissing the case. Though California law doesn't bar the media from discussing or portraying the life of a decedent, it does protect death images, the 4th District Court of Appeal ruled.

The Catsouras family had accused the officers of causing them emotional distress intentionally and with reckless disregard. Those accusations were enough to sustain the action, Justice Aronson ruled.

The court also allowed the family's negligence claims, ruling that the officers and the department had a duty of care not to put accident photos on the Internet. Aronson said the alleged actions were "morally deficient," and said he hoped the ruling would protect families from such abuses in the future. "We rely upon the CHP to protect and serve the public," Aronson wrote. "It is antithetical to that expectation for the CHP to inflict harm upon us by making the ravaged remains of our loved ones the subjects of Internet sensationalism. It is important to prevent future harm to other families by encouraging the CHP to establish and enforce policies to preclude its officers from engaging in such acts ever again."


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Crime/Corruption; Government; US: California
KEYWORDS:

1 posted on 02/03/2010 5:27:29 PM PST by The Magical Mischief Tour
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To: Munz

...


2 posted on 02/03/2010 5:27:44 PM PST by The Magical Mischief Tour
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To: The Magical Mischief Tour

take them to the cleaners!!!!


3 posted on 02/03/2010 5:31:52 PM PST by mockingbyrd (Sarah speaks for me!)
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To: The Magical Mischief Tour

Moronic. Anyone involved in this work should have the decency to respect the victims and their families. Send them packing.


4 posted on 02/03/2010 5:33:00 PM PST by CASchack
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To: mockingbyrd

My Wife’s Grandfather (RIP) was a volunteer fire captain, and when they would pull out a body, he would line his guys up in an honor guard and load up the body, then go back to fighting the fire or whatever. He showed respect, and dignity.


5 posted on 02/03/2010 5:34:13 PM PST by DariusBane (Even the Rocks shall cry out "Hobamma to the Highest")
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To: The Magical Mischief Tour

As a father of five, the thought of someone performing such a heinous act leaves me cold. I hope the family sues the crap out of the CHP unit for this. Bad enough to lose a daughter. I can only imagine what this has put them through. God help ‘em.


6 posted on 02/03/2010 5:35:01 PM PST by sayuncledave
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To: The Magical Mischief Tour

I Googled the girl’s name and six of the photos came up. One was so gross that it could cause nightmares. The Highway Patrolman that did this are nothing but scum.


7 posted on 02/03/2010 5:35:49 PM PST by svxdave (Life is too short to wear a fake Rolex.)
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Comment #8 Removed by Moderator

To: The Magical Mischief Tour

That is dreadful. People are so sick.


9 posted on 02/03/2010 5:45:22 PM PST by freekitty (Give me back my conservative vote; then find me a real conservative to vote for)
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To: The Magical Mischief Tour

Cop or not, I would beat the living hell out of the scum that did this if I were the father.


10 posted on 02/03/2010 5:47:21 PM PST by Illuminatas (Being conservative means never having to say; "Don't you dare question my patriotism")
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To: The Magical Mischief Tour

There is no excuse for such depravity.


11 posted on 02/03/2010 5:47:27 PM PST by Carley (Are you better off now than one year ago? HELL NO!!!!!)
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To: The Magical Mischief Tour

I read about the accident and the distribution of the photos. Quite a few stupid parties in this entire sordid affair who had no regard for their fellow human beings.

An avoidable tragedy to begin with with an avoidable aftermath.


12 posted on 02/03/2010 5:48:19 PM PST by lmr (God punishes Conservatives by making them argue with fools.)
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To: svxdave

“The Highway Patrolman that did this are nothing but scum.”

I agree 100%. on the other hand, a drunk driver should have to see a couple of gruesome accident photos while in police custody. Might help “scare them straight”.


13 posted on 02/03/2010 5:56:24 PM PST by Frank_2001
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To: The Magical Mischief Tour

>> “for pure shock value,”

This is the type of stunt terrorists pull.

Of all the tragedy the armed forces suffer, the Military seems to handle this issue well.

There’s no obvious remedy for this stupidity that will alleviate the family’s suffering.

Special prayers to the family.


14 posted on 02/03/2010 6:01:32 PM PST by Gene Eric (Your Hope has been redistributed. Here's your Change.)
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To: The Magical Mischief Tour

The Catsouras family should get a nice settlement from all parties involved.

I don’t know if I’d go as far as firing the cops, but it should hurt enough to make other CHiPs from making a similar insensitive mistake.

Those websites should also be taken down immediately!

Prayers to the family.


15 posted on 02/03/2010 6:06:15 PM PST by TruthHound ("He who does not punish evil commands it to be done." --Leonardo da Vinci)
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To: The Magical Mischief Tour
Words fail me. Our police officers have a public trust and they have a duty to act with professional integrity at all times. When they abuse it, they lower every one's respect for law enforcement. There was no excuse for those CHP officers to do what they did. I hope they will be held fully accountable.

"Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find only things evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." - Manuel II Palelogus

16 posted on 02/03/2010 6:11:59 PM PST by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives In My Heart Forever)
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To: svxdave
I Googled the girl’s name and six of the photos came up. One was so gross that it could cause nightmares.

Was this the girl who took out a tollbooth with her dad's 911?

17 posted on 02/03/2010 6:13:28 PM PST by Charles Martel ("Endeavor to persevere...")
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To: svxdave

I found a video. Didn’t know it was a video and wish I wouldn’t have seen it. Pictures I can handle, videos...?


18 posted on 02/03/2010 6:18:31 PM PST by Skenderbej (No muhammadan practices his religion peacefully.)
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To: Charles Martel

Yes, it was a young woman who took out a toll booth in a new Porsche.


19 posted on 02/03/2010 6:26:49 PM PST by svxdave (Life is too short to wear a fake Rolex.)
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To: The Magical Mischief Tour
Thank you my liberal friend.

20 posted on 02/03/2010 6:30:16 PM PST by Munz (All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.)
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To: TruthHound

I’d go the other way around. Fire the cops and take their pensions, but not as much money to the family.


21 posted on 02/03/2010 6:32:45 PM PST by MediaMole
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To: The Magical Mischief Tour

As the father of an 18 year-old young woman, this sickens me beyond belief!


22 posted on 02/03/2010 6:32:53 PM PST by Inyo-Mono (Had God not driven man from the Garden of Eden the Sierra Club surely would have.)
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To: The Magical Mischief Tour

Distasteful, yes. However if the cop was a New York Times reporter and photographer then this would be seen as protected by the first amendment. While the officer is on our dime and therefore held to a different standard, I find it ironic that an industry whose motto is “if it bleeds it leads” would have any problem with this.


23 posted on 02/03/2010 7:13:35 PM PST by Martel1971
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To: svxdave

Incredibly disturbing. And I thought I’d seen it all.


24 posted on 02/03/2010 7:35:18 PM PST by boop (Democracy is the theory that the people get the government they deserve, good and hard.)
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To: The Magical Mischief Tour; All

I did a little snooping on the web.

Nikki Catsaurass AKA PORSCHE GIRL

I found several references on the web. I guess this is why some people on the web are pissed. A spoiled rotten kid endangering other people on the road. See below. I edited a bit but several sources say the same thing.
I’m not excusing the leaking of the photos, but i can see why the public got pissed at the family because they couldn’t control their little girl.

Nikki and daddy had an arguement and he took away her car keys, so she took his Porsche without permission.

“Nikki Catsouras Driving a 2001 Porsche Carrera, the girl car crash because apparently, witnesses determines that running more than 100mph is a girl who doesn’t know how to drive. Her parents were going to admit her to a hospital again after she tested positive for COCAINE the night before she died 07 Sep, 2009”

Quote from ‘swvirtual.com Blogs


25 posted on 02/03/2010 9:22:14 PM PST by 1FASTGLOCK45 (FreeRepublic: More fun than watching Dem'Rats drown like Turkeys in the rain! ! !)
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To: The Magical Mischief Tour

This reminds me of the “gallows humor” jerks here on FR that will make jokes whenever some poor soul dies in a horrific way.


26 posted on 02/03/2010 9:45:27 PM PST by IDontLikeToPayTaxes
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To: 1FASTGLOCK45
This is the car the decedent hit before running into the 241 toll booth at 100mph.



I used to drive the 241. I hate to imagine if that was my car with my 2 year old daughter in the back seat.

Children are a reflection of the parenting that creates them. The Catsouras family deserves no monetary compensation. They should be thankful their handiwork didn't kill anybody else in the process.

I hope other parents in "disney land" O.C. take a good look and pay attention; and understand that while "the rules don't apply to them" - the laws of Physics still do.
27 posted on 02/04/2010 9:16:07 AM PST by LomanBill (Animals! The DemocRats blew up the windmill with an Acorn!)
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