Charles Warner Editor
September 4, 2013
UNION — The Union Hospital District has filed a motion for summary judgment in response to a lawsuit filed by a woman who claims hospital officials violated her privacy by allowing her husband’s lifeless body to be photographed and the pictures posted online.
In papers filed Aug. 19 in the Union County Clerk of Court’s Office, the Union Hospital District asked the court for a summary judgment dismissing the complaint filed against it in 2012 by Brandy Allison, the widow of Joshua Allison, who died at Wallace Thomson Hospital on Aug. 20, 2010, following a motorcycle wreck.
Brandy Allison alleges in her lawsuit that hospital staff allowed her husband’s body to be photographed with the resulting photos placed on social networking sites like Facebook.
In her suit, which was filed in 2012, Brandy Allison claims this constituted a “wrongful intrusion into private affairs,” “wrongful publicizing of private affairs,” “negligence,” and “intentional infliction of emotional distress.”
A motion for summary judgment asks for dismissal on the grounds that “there is no evidence of an intrusion by” the hospital while Brandy Allison was “with her recently departed spouse;” no evidence that the hospital publicized the photographs of the deceased; no evidence that the hospital “had in place a policy and procedure that prohibited” non-family members from viewing a deceased person’s remains; and no evidence that the hospital “intentionally inflicted emotional distress” on Brandy Allison or allowed her husband’s body to be photographed.
The motion further states “there is no evidence that any alleged conduct” was directed at Brandy Allison. The motion also states that “there is no evidence that allowing others in the waiting room to view” Joshua Allison’s body “was extreme and outrageous” when Brandy Allison “was aware of these people being present and did not object.”
According to the suit, her husband suffered a traumatic head injury in a motorcycle wreck on Aug. 20, 2010. Joshua Allison was transported by ambulance to Wallace Thomson Hospital. Despite attempts by emergency staff to resuscitate him, Allison was pronounced dead at 8:43 p.m. that night.
The suit states that when a hospital staff member came to take Brandy Allison to see his body so she could “say her final goodbye,” there were “approximately 30-40 non-family members, friends, acquaintances, and strangers” in the emergency room.
The suit states that hospital staff allowed those people “to have access to Mr. Allison’s private hospital room via a locked security door with cellular telephones and cameras in their possession” despite notices stating “No Cell Phones Allowed” and “Immediate Family Only — No Children Under 12” being posted.
The suit further alleges that two people took photos of Joshua Allison’s body and that the photographs were text messaged, emailed and placed on social networking sites, including Facebook, without Brandy Allison’s knowledge or permission.
The suit states the photographs of Joshua Allison’s remains “were of a private nature which the public had no legitimate concern.” It further states that these photographs were viewed by the public at large on Facebook.
The suit claims that as a result, Brandy Allison has suffered “great emotional distress and mental anguish; embarrassment and shame; all of which caused somatic symptoms such as shaking, appetite disturbance, sleep deprivation and other, similar psychosomatic ailments.”
On negligence, the suit claims hospital staff “disregarded hospital policies and procedures by allowing the intrusion of non-family members, acquaintances, and strangers to view” Joshua Allison’s remains. By doing so, the suit claims the hospital failed to meet its own standards for privacy resulting in the mental anguish suffered by Brandy Allison.
As for “intentional infliction of emotional distress,” the suit claims the hospital’s conduct “in deliberately and intentionally permitting the public viewing and photographing” of Joshua Allison’s body “was extreme and outrageous” and caused the injuries Brandy Allison suffered as a result.
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.