Suit Stemming from Leaked Photos of a Dead Teen Settles

More than five years after the gory photographs of a teenage girl killed in a horrific automobile accident were released on the internet, her family’s lawsuit has come to an end. The deceased girl’s family filed suit against the California Highway Patrol (CHP) for broadcasting graphic photographs of the dead girl’s body over the internet, photographs which can still be found today.

The tragic story begins with the teen having driven her father’s Porsche without his permission, and ends in a senseless accident with her body being maimed and nearly decapitated. After reaching speeds of more than 100 mph, the teen clipped another vehicle, swerved, and struck a toll booth. She was so badly disfigured that her family was not permitted to view her body. Sadly, they would be given the chance thanks to two CHP dispatchers who took it upon themselves to leak the photographs. The photographs, never intend for public viewing, appeared on thousands of websites. Unbelievably, many websites mocked the girl as a spoiled rich girl, who got what she deserved. She was nicknamed “Porsche Girl.” The family even received anonymous taunting messages.

The family filed suit claiming an invasion of privacy. A Superior Court judge initially threw out the family’s lawsuit, concluding that the agency had not breached any legal duty to the family, as the law did not recognize the right of family members to sue for invasion of privacy involving photos of the dead at the time. But that changed in 2010 when the state’s 4th District Court of Appeal reversed the decision. For the first time in California, the court established that surviving family members have a right to sue for invasion of privacy in such cases.

The family is still desperate to have the photos removed from the internet. As part of the settlement, CHP has agreed to help fight to remove the photos, experts say they will never be removed. A simple search of the family’s last name brings up links to the photos.

All the way around, it is just an awful situation.

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