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Howard Stern Engage in Outrageous Behavior?
Description Stern and guest, over plaintiffs' objections, played with cremated remains of former guest on Stern's show. The incident was played on Stern's radio and television shows. Appeals court allowed suit for intentional infliction of emotional distress to go forward against Howard Stern and other parties.
Topic Torts
Key Words Emotional Distress
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Debbie Tay was a topless dancer who had frequently been a guest on Howard Stern's radio show. After her death, her sister, the plaintiff, had the body cremated and gave some of the remains to Tay's friend, Hayden, claiming that she understood that Hayden would "preserve and honor" the remains. The sister heard that Hayden was taking the remains to Stern's radio and TV show and she objected. Hayden took the remains on the show, which Stern played with and joked about. The sister and other relatives sued Stern, Hayden, and the broadcasting company for intentional infliction of emotional distress. Trial court dismissed the complaint; plaintiffs appealed.
Decision Reversed. "Although the defendants contend that the conduct at issue was not particularly shocking, in light of Stern's reputation for vulgar humor and Tay's actions during her guest appearances on his program, a jury might reasonably conclude that the manner in which Tay's remains were handled, for entertainment purposes and against the wishes of her family, went beyond the bounds of decent behavior." The elements necessary to establish a cause of action were sufficiently pleaded.
Citation Roach v. Stern, 1998 WL 376198 (1998 N.Y. Slip Op. 06721, Sup Ct., App. Div., N.Y.)
675 N.Y.S.2d 133 (Sup. Ct., App. Div., N.Y., 1998)

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