Arkansas court: Lawsuit in anchorwoman's death can proceed


February 9, 2018

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Arkansas Supreme Court said Thursday the mother of a television news anchor killed in a 2008 attack can move forward with a complaint that hospital employees not involved in the journalist's medical care acted outrageously as the woman was dying.

Justices said a Pulaski County judge correctly found that St. Vincent Infirmary couldn't be held liable for the actions of properly trained employees, but the court dismissed a cross-appeal that the workers wanted to use to end the case. Proceedings may advance on whether employees acted in an "extreme and outrageous" manner.

KATV anchorwoman Anne Pressly, 26, died following an attack at her home. Three people admitted in federal court that they broke privacy laws by viewing her medical records and were fined and placed on probation. Two hospital employees were later fired. In state court, Presley's mother filed claims of outrage and invasion of privacy.

"St. Vincent trained its employees to respect patients' privacy and took appropriate actions when they did not," Justice Courtney Hudson Goodson wrote in the 6-1 decision upholding the decision to dismiss the hospital from part of the lawsuit but let other portions of it continue.

A lawyer for one employee said it was unfortunate that anyone viewed Pressly's records improperly but said the material wasn't shared and those responsible had already been punished.

"Obviously, they should not have done it, but that's not outrage under the law," Justin Eisele said.

Pressly's killer, Curtis Vance, is serving a life term.


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