Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Dana v. Oak Park Marina, Inc. case brief

Dana v. Oak Park Marina, Inc. case summary
660 N.Y.S.2d 906 (N.Y. App. Div. 1997)
Tort Law

PROCEDURAL POSTURE: Defendants, corporation, its officers, and operators of its marina, appealed an order of the Supreme Court (Trial court in New York), which denied their motion to dismiss plaintiff female patron's causes of action for negligent infliction of emotional distress by failing to ensure the privacy of patrons using the ladies' rest room, reckless infliction of emotional distress, violation of NY Law, and breach of contract.


-The patron alleged that female patrons in stages of undress were videotaped in the ladies rest room without their knowledge or consent; that the videotapes were viewed by the individual defendants and others; and that the tapes were displayed for purposes of trade.
-The court held that the complaint alleged that the corporation engaged in conduct constituting a violation of a statutory duty owed to the patron under a NY law (prohibiting installation of cameras in restrooms for the purpose of surreptitious observation), and thus stated a cause of action for the negligent infliction of emotional distress.
-The complaint stated a cause of action for reckless infliction of emotional distress, and as to the statute of limitations, the corporation did not show that the patron learned of the videotaping more than one year prior to filing suit.

The corporation and individual defendants failed to establish that the videotapes were displayed to third persons more than a year before the suit was filed, so their motion to dismiss the civil rights cause of action as time barred was properly denied.
-Lastly, the breach of contract claim failed to state a cause of action.


-A plaintiff who has not suffered any physical injury may recover damages for mental or emotional distress if she can establish that defendant owed a duty to her and that a breach of that duty directly resulted in mental or emotional harm.
-Even absent proof that defendant owed a general duty to plaintiff, New York has permitted recovery where the defendant negligently transmitted information concerning the death of a relative, failed to reveal the results of an autopsy concerning the death of a relative, or negligently mishandled a corpse.

 The order was modified by granting in part the corporation and individual defendants' motion and dismissing the breach of contract cause of action against the corporation and the negligent infliction of emotional distress cause of action against the individual defendants. The order, as modified, was affirmed.

Case Terms:
cause of action, emotional distress, infliction, videotape, rest room, marina, ladies', reckless, camera, surveillance, owed, severe, videotaping, privacy, installation, displayed, distress, patron, purposes of trade, time barred, guests, videotaped, surreptitiously, outrageous, emotional, anguish, commencement, continuous, accrued, hotel

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