Media & Communications Law

Suit claims broadcast of man's suicide left his kids with PTSD

Fox News Network is facing a lawsuit that claims its broadcast of a man’s suicide left his three children with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

The suit filed by Angela Rodriguez in Arizona’s Maricopa County says the program “Studio B with Shepard Smith” broadcast the suicide of JoDon Romero in September as part of its coverage of a car chase around Phoenix, Courthouse News Service reports. After Romero jumped out of his car and began running through the desert with a gun, Smith could be heard telling producers to “get off” the video, but the broadcast continued. Viewers then saw Romero shooting himself in the head.

After the broadcast, Smith apologized. He said the network had switched to a tape delay when Romero jumped out of his car to avoid showing any event that went “horribly wrong,” but “we really messed up,” according to the complaint.

Romero’s two oldest children heard about the suicide broadcast at school and found the video on YouTube. “As they watched,” the suit says, “they realized in horror that they were watching their father.” The children now have flashbacks, trauma, sleep disturbances and intrusive thoughts, the suit says. The children are so depressed that they cannot go to school, the suit claims.

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