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Catsouras v. Department of California Highway Patrol

104 Cal. Rptr. 3d 352 (2010)

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Catsouras v. Department of California Highway Patrol

California Court of Appeal

104 Cal. Rptr. 3d 352 (2010)

Facts

An automobile accident killed and decapitated the teenage daughter of the Catsouras family (plaintiffs). At the gruesome accident scene, Officer O’Donnell and Officer Reich (defendants) of the California Highway Patrol (CHP) (defendant) took photographs of the decapitated young woman. The accident happened on Halloween. O’Donnell and Reich sent several of the photographs to friends and family. Soon thereafter, the photographs went viral on the internet. Internet malefactors discovered the contact information for the Catsourases and taunted them with horrific photographs, insults, and profane language. As a result, the Catsourases suffered severe emotional and mental distress. The Catsourases sued. CHP, O’Donnell, and Reich argued that they had no duty to the Catsourases. The trial court agreed and dismissed the Catsourases’ case. The Catsourases appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Moore, J.)

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