Conradt v. NBC Universal, Inc.
United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
536 F. Supp. 2d 380 (2008)
NBC Universal, Inc. (NBC) (defendant) aired the investigative program To Catch a Predator as part of Dateline NBC. The show, hosted by Chris Hansen, used decoys posing online as minors to lure adults to a so-called sting house, where they were filmed being confronted and arrested. Dateline set up a sting house in Texas, and a decoy was contacted by Louis Conradt, a well-regarded local prosecutor. Conradt agreed to meet the decoy at the sting house but never appeared. Hansen insisted that the local police get warrants and execute them at Conradt’s home. For the warrant execution, Dateline employees camped outside Conradt’s house and trespassed on his property. The Dateline employees and police engaged in open discussion outside Conradt’s home about how to execute the warrants, and Dateline filmed several interviews with officers. The Dateline crew made suggestions to officers about how to act and what to say to increase the entertainment value. An armed SWAT team entered Conradt’s home to arrest him even though Conradt had no violent history, and Conradt ultimately shot and killed himself. Conradt’s sister (plaintiff) sued NBC in federal court, alleging claims including violation of Conradt’s Fourth Amendment rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. NBC moved to dismiss the claims for failure to state a claim on which relief could be granted. NBC did not dispute that the actions of the police officers could be imputed on NBC.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Chin, J.)
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