Comments: Post-Vacation, I'm Tanned, Rested, and Ready

To: Mr. Kepple
From: Your Lawyers
Re: Dog Bites to the Scrotum

Dear Mr. Kepple,

I am writing to advise you on your potential tort claims of Negligent/Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress against the visitor who got there by typing "dog bite scrotum" into a search engine.

It is unlikely that you could prove the emotional distress was intentional, considering said searcher likely had no idea that you would be reading the logs of the visitors' search requests that brought them to your site. Negligence is a closer call, in that you could argue the visitor SHOULD have known that you would read the logs and thereby become faint and nauseated and have nightmares for weeks.

However, this all does not change the fact that in order to win damages for an emotional distress claim, one must generally be within the "Zone of Danger" of the accident, whose viewing must then cause physical effects of emotional distress. For example, were you to actually have BEEN in the backyard of Johnny Pitbull Owner when Johnny siced his Pitbull on his neighbor's genitals, and were you to then have experienced nausea and/or tremors because of that viewing, then you would arguably have a claim against JOHNNY for negligent infliction of emotional distress. However, you were not in the backyard at the time.

In any case, I can envision no scenario in which you would be successful in your claim against a visitor for typing a disturbing phrase into a search engine. Further, as a policy matter, I would recommend against suing or threatening to sue your site visitors. It's bad for business.

That'll be $500.

Very truly yours,
Matthew S. S_______, Esq.

Posted by Matt at February 10, 2008 04:19 PM
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