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Privacy Issue Denied in Televising Man’s Death

(CN) - Since ABC did not identify a man whose death it filmed for a medical-documentary series, it does not owe his widow damages, a New York appeals court ruled.

Anita Chanko and her three children sued ABC last year for intentional infliction of emotional distress, over an episode of "NY Med" that originally aired on Aug. 21, 2012.

The episode allegedly showed the dying moments of Chanko's husband at New York Presbyterian Hospital aka Weill Cornell Medical Center, on East 68th Street, from April 29, 2011.

In addition to recording Chanko's final words, treatment and death were recorded, ABC filmed Chanko's family as they learned from a social worker that Chanko had died.

"No member of the public had or has any legitimate interest in this information," the Chankos complained.

On Nov. 18, the Appellate Division of the Manhattan Supreme Court found that the emotional distress claims against ABC, the hospital and Dr. Sebastian Schubl should have been dismissed.

In also finding that the Chankos also cannot pursue claims that the hospital and Schubl violated physician-patient confidentiality, the appellate court dismissed the case.

"Defendants' conduct in producing and televising a show depicting the medical care provided at defendant hospital that included a pixilated image of plaintiffs' decedent, who was not identified, was not so extreme and outrageous as to support a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress," the unsigned decision by the four-justice panel states.

"Nor can plaintiffs maintain an action against defendant doctor or defendant hospital for breach of the duty not to disclose personal information, since no such information regarding plaintiffs' decedent was disclosed," the brief ruling concludes.

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