Anita Chanko, a widow who was shocked to see how her husband died on an ABC reality show, continues the legal battle against ABC and requests $5 million damages for the emotional distress she was put through.
Mr. Chanko died at age 83 in the New York-Presbyterian Hospital’s emergency room in 2011. The show was aired 16 months later, in the summer of 2012. The Chanko family filed a lawsuit within the same year, while in 2014 a state appeals court said that the footage wasn’t extreme or outrageous enough to justify the damages. Additionally, late Mr. Chanko’s name was not disclosed and his face was blurred during the show.
However, family and friends said that they were able to recognize him by his voice.
You could hear his speech pattern. I hear my husband say, ‘Does my wife know I’m here?’”
Mrs. Chanko said.
The widow also said that her dying husband’s last words were an intimate moment and she hadn’t been asked if she wanted to share it with millions of viewers on a reality show. She also said that she was so shocked to see her husband die on TV that she has clenched her fists so hard that the palms of her hands almost resembled to stigmata.
Mr. Chanko’s wife also said that she was able to recognize his husband in the footage by his voice, although his face was blurred. She said that her former pet-sitter also recognized him and called her to see her husband on TV.
The lawsuit was filed against ABC television, which aired the show, New York-Presbyterian Hospital for allowing an ER case to get filmed without family permission, and the surgeon that attended Mr. Chanko during his last minutes.
Chanko family said that their beloved father, husband and grand-dad’s last moments were turned into a TV show for ‘the entertainment of strangers’ without their consent.
The New York State Health Department stated that the hospital did violate the dying man’s rights to privacy.
Nevertheless, the hospital argued that doctors are not allowed by the law to disclose data about their patients only after the treatment was over.
Mark Fox, Chanko family’s attorney, said that cameras and lights were already set up in the ER when dying Mr. Chanko was brought in. The ABC team members were also dressed in medical suits to “keep the atmosphere.”
Mr. Fox said that Mrs. Chanko was “completely distraught” to see her husband die on TV, especially since she didn’t know that he was brought alive in the ER and was able to utter some last words.
Although their case was dismissed by the appeals court, Chanko family requested a review for the decision and is currently working on an appeal.
Image Source: Propublica