HolyCoast: CHP Photo Leak Costs Taxpayers $2.4 Million

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

CHP Photo Leak Costs Taxpayers $2.4 Million

One of the most searched stories I've ever done came as a result of an automobile accident on Halloween day, 2006, when a Porsche driven by an 18-year old crashed at very high speed into a toll booth.  CHP employees leaked grisly photos from the accident which found their way onto the internet and precipitated a wave of cyber bullying and additional pain for the family.  I've done several posts on the subject, including the fact that most of the people who find my post via Google are usually trying to find the grisly photos (which I've never run or linked to), and now there's been a resolution in the case against the CHP:
Ending a 4½-year court battle that rewrote state law, a Ladera Ranch family tormented by grisly accident photos of their daughter on the Internet has settled a lawsuit against the California Highway Patrol for leaking images that went viral worldwide.

The CHP agreed to pay the family of Nicole "Nikki" Catsouras $2.375 million Friday after a judge ordered the two sides to talk ahead of a jury trial scheduled for March, CHP spokesman Fran Clader said.

The deal puts an end to an emotionally charged legal drama waged by Lesli and Christos Catsouras on behalf of their daughter, Nicole "Nikki" Catsouras.

Nikki's horribly disfigured remains are permanently on display on hundreds of websites after an Oct. 31, 2006, crash that left the 18-year-old nearly decapitated.

On top of the grief of losing the eldest of their four daughters, Lesli and Christos Catsouras say they and their three surviving daughters have had to endure a never-ending nightmare of knowing that a click of a mouse can unknowingly bring up ghastly images of Nikki on their computer screen.

"The family was compensated for the emotional pain and suffering associated with the release of the photos," Catsouras family attorney Keith Bremer said. "The CHP came to the table with significant funds in an effort to resolve this case and remove any chances of a monumental verdict."
This case has basically changed the law as it pertains to photos of a deceased person who is not considered a celebrity or someone whose likeness after death would have some particular value. Unfortunately, the internet makes is possible to spread images far and wide very quickly, and makes them equally hard to get rid of once they're out there. The grisly photos in question are still being put on websites and that's a shame.

Professional law enforcement needs to be more careful with the images they take of crime and accident scenes, and I'm sure this case will have an impact.

1 comment:

Nightingale said...

I'm not so sure the airing of 911 tapes of Demi Moore's paramedic run is really necessary either.