Elliot, a freshman at a private university in California, was publically humiliated for gender uncertainty when his roommate, Fred, uploaded a private video of him onto YouTube. Suffering from what he claims to be emotional distress, Elliot began eating every meal at a local fast food restaurant, causing him to gain significant weight and health issues. Now facing a hefty medical bill alone, Elliot seeks compensation by examining whether he can file claims against Fred, YouTube, the university, and fast food restaurant for his emotional distress. II. Analysis
Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
Peterson v. Moldofsky established four elements that needs to be satisfied to claim a case for intentional infliction of emotional distress: “(1) defendant’s conduct was intentional or in reckless disregard of plaintiff; (2) defendant’s conduct was extreme and outrageous; (3) there is a casual connection between defendant’s conduct and plaintiff’s emotional distress; and (4) plaintiff’s mental distress is extreme and severe.”
For one, Fred violated Elliot’s rights when he decided to record and upload a private video of Elliot onto YouTube. The conduct was “intentional” as Fred purposefully told Elliot that he would have the room to himself. Having successfully documented Elliot dancing in women’s clothing, Fred again, intentionally sent in the video, without Elliot’s knowing or consent, to a public Internet server where it could be easily accessed for public viewing. In this situation, Fred was in complete disregard for possibilities of Elliot’s emotional distress that could ensue. Second, Fred’s actions can be considered “extreme and outrageous”. In the Rutgers Case, Mr. Ravi made a similar gesture in which he “deliberately turned on his webcam…watched his roommate’s private intimacies and broadcasted the images for other on the Web to see” - Mr. Ravi’s conduct was deemed outrageous, likewise, mirroring that of Fred’s. Third, Elliot’s distress was a direct cause of Fred’s posting on YouTube. After the posting, peers and family throughout the week publically ridiculed Elliot, so he began eating all of his meals at a local fast food restaurant. This close time frame provides evidence of a “casual connection” between Fred’s conduct and Elliot’s severe emotional distress, resulting in tremendous weight gain and health problems. On the other hand, Fred can argue that there is no direct proof that it was because of his posting that drove Elliot to eat at the restaurant. However, although one casual meal may not be of permanent harm, Elliot’s emotional distress is apparent from the fact that he ate every meal there since the incident, thus reinforcing a connection between cause and action. Finally, Elliot’s emotional distress can be considered “extreme and severe”. As a result of his upset emotions, Elliot was diagnosed with high blood sugar and blood pressure, which now requires medication to treat. However, unlike previous situations where patients sought counseling from therapists, Fred can claim that there is no tangible “’indicator of the distress’s severity’”, as demonstrated in Peterson v. Moldofsky. However, Elliot satisfies both threshold determinations that allow him to survive summary judgment – his emotional distress calls for recovery that requires Elliot to look for work because his parents are unwilling to pay off his medical bills. As such, because all four of these requirements are met, Elliot can effectively file a claim against Fred for intentional infliction of emotional distress. Invasion of Privacy
According to the California Civil Code Section 1708.8 Invasion of Privacy, Section B: “a person is liable for constructive invasion of privacy when the defendant attempts to capture, in a manner that is offensive to a reasonable person, any type of visual image…of the plaintiff engaging in a personal or familial activity…in which the plaintiff had a reasonable expectation of privacy…”....
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