Monday, April 7, 2008

To Catch A Predator Catches A Lawsuit

One of my favorite areas of law is Constitutional Rights litigation, and I consider myself lucky to be responsible for a few such cases.

I came across this decision today, Conradt v. NBC Universal , that I thought I would share. Conradt was a retired district attorney in Texas who was caught on NBC's "To Catch A Predator," which is a reality television show that works with law enforcement to catch pedophiles. The show ordinarily has someone pose as a child on the internet, arrange a meeting, and then the pedophile shows up to find the police and an NBC camera crew.

Conradt, however, did not go to the house, and so -- according to the complaint -- NBC arranged with the police for him to be arrestaed by a SWAT team. The complaint alleges that the show purposely made a spectacle out of the arrest, and Contadt committed suicide as a result. Most of the causes of action were dismissed, but the court (the Southern District of New York, Judge Chin) allowed two to proceed against NBC: a cause of action for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, and a cause of action for violating Conradt's civil rights under the 4th and 14th Amendments. One of the more interesting aspects of the decision is that NBC conceded that it was functioning as a state actor, thus allowing the Constitutional claim to go forward.

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