The police are seeking an imposter who pretended that he was the father of the dead actor Heath Ledger to secure hotel rooms, convince Tom Cruise to console him, and almost convince John Travolta to buy him free tickets to the United States. It is conduct that fits both criminal and tort theories of culpability.
The imposter was convincing enough to get through to both Cruise and Travolta and even convince the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Home in Manhatta, where Ledger’s body was held before being flown to Los Angeles, into booking him and his “family” rooms at the Carlyle hotel.
The conduct presents obvious state and federal crimes for fraud, larceny, and the like.
It also creates potential tort liability even without the actual loss of money in the form of intentional infliction of emotional distress. Here the elements seen clear: This is (1) outrageous conduct committed with (2) intent or reckless disregard (3) causing severe or extreme emotional distress with (4) factual and legal causation. It is a standard that is determined in the context. Here, in the midst of grieving, the context is particularly bad where the victims are more vulnerable to severe or extreme emotional distress.
Celebrity imposters are remarkably common, though the use of a death as an opportunity remains thankfully rare.For the full story, click here