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Judge allows $105 Million Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against NBC’s ‘Predator’ for Suspect’s Suicide

A federal judge is allowing a $105 million wrongful death lawsuit against Dateline NBC: “To Catch a Predator” to proceed. The lawsuit, brought by Patricia Conradt, alleges that her brother, Dallas prosecutor Louis William Conradt Jr. committed suicide because a sting operation accused him of having an online sexual conversation with someone pretending to be a 13-year-old boy.

Patricia is also accusing NBC of “steamrolling” police into arresting Louis, 56, after he did not appear at the sting operation site. She is blaming NBC for causing her brother’s suicide and ruining his reputation.

NBC conducts the sting operation with Perverted Justice. Police officers pose as underage kids during the chats. The disguised officers try to persuade the men to come to a house with hidden cameras under the pretense that they will be having is sex together. At the house, the program’s host confronts them and police make their arrests.

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Denny Chin said that there were enough facts brought by the lawsuit that suicide was foreseeable. Chin says that it was the responsibility of the police to prevent Louis from committing suicide and that they, along with NBC, were deliberately indifferent.

Chin says that it was not necessary for a heavily armed swat team to take Louis from his home when he had never been accused of committing any act of violence and there was no evidence that he was armed. An NBC television crew was there to shoot the arrest. At the scene, one police officer reportedly told a Dateline producer that the arrest would make “good TV.”

Chin noted that NBC involved itself in a police operation and persuaded officers to act in a manner that would help create more drama for its TV show. The judge allowed the case to move forward based on the plaintiff’s claims of violation of civil rights and emotional distress.

Critics have called “To Catch a Predator” a form of entrapment.

Judge approves “Predator” lawsuit against NBC, Reuters, February 26, 2008
Lawsuit proceeds vs. NBC’s ‘Predator’ by family of suicide victim, USA Today, February 26, 2008

Related Web Resources:

Dateline NBC: To Catch a Predator, MSNBC.com
Perverted Justice