1/6/2014 5:28:00 PM,
Jeff D. Gorman
(CN) - HBO is not liable for the police shooting of a woman during the filming of a prospective documentary or reality show, a New York appeals court ruled.
Eames Yates Productions had signed a deal with Home Box Office in 2001 to shoot video for a potential reality show or documentary about the Emergency Services Unit of the New York Police Department.
Two years later, a Yates cameraperson was filming outside a building as the ESU executed a search warrant on a basement apartment that was being used as a store to sell stolen items.
When police entered the apartment, Vivian Rodriguez was hiding in a bathroom with other "customers" of the store. A detective mistakenly thought Rodriguez was holding a gun and shot her in the abdomen.
Rodriguez sued the city, the NYPD and Yates, as well as HBO and its parent company, Time Warner Inc., for tort claims and the use of excessive force.
Though a Brooklyn judge dismissed the claims against Yates, HBO and Time Warner, an appellate panel revived some claims and the case proceeded to discovery.
The trial court then granted the media defendants summary judgment, and the appellate panel affirmed on Dec. 26.
Rodriguez failed to show that the media defendants conspired with police on the use of excessive force to maximize the entertainment value of the film footage, according to the Appellate Division's Brooklyn-based Second Judicial Department.
"Yates and HBO demonstrated that they did not make any suggestion or recommendation as to how the police should conduct themselves during the execution of the search warrant," the unsigned decision states.
"In addition, contrary to the plaintiff's contention, the evidence submitted by Yates and HBO demonstrated that the videographer never entered the building, let alone the apartment in which the plaintiff was shot," the four appellate justices added.