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Howell v. New York Post Co., Inc.

81 N.Y.2d 115, 612 N.E.2d 699 (1993)

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Howell v. New York Post Co., Inc.

New York Court of Appeals

81 N.Y.2d 115, 612 N.E.2d 699 (1993)

Facts

Pamela J. Howell (plaintiff) was a patient at a secluded, private psychiatric hospital. Only her immediate family knew of her hospitalization. Hedda Nussbaum, a woman associated with a high-profile murder, was also a patient at the facility. A photographer from the New York Post Company, Inc. (Post) (defendant) trespassed on hospital grounds and took photographs of Nussbaum as she interacted outdoors with other patients. The photographs were taken from a distance. Howell was included in several of the photographs, and her face was easily identifiable. One of the photographs that included Howell was published on the front page of the Post’s newspaper. The Post did not publish Howell’s name. Howell sued the Post alleging, among other things, that it was essential to her recovery that only her immediate family know of her hospitalization and that the publication of the photograph had caused her humiliation and emotional distress. The Post moved to dismiss Howell’s complaint. The trial court partially granted the motion but allowed Howell’s claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress to proceed. Howell filed a motion for summary judgment, which was denied. The parties cross-appealed, and the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division dismissed Howell’s complaint in its entirety. Howell appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Kaye, C.J.)

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