Christina Pagliarolo is the latest former guest to sue a talk show. Pagliarolo joined the Rachel Ray (right) show at age 18 in 2011 to lose weight and says that she was treated negligently and abusively by the show and its trainer to lose weight. At the time, Pagliarolo weighed 260 lbs. The case is a variation of the type of bullying actions that we have seen in high school but here it is the show producers and trainers who are being accused of tolerating or participating in bullying.
She came to the show with the goal of losing 70 pounds before her senior prom. She says that she was subjected to reckless and abusive conduct in the effort to force down her weight. This includes a trainer allegedly yelling at her and forcing her to work out too hard. Among other accusations, she claims that the trainer, Eric Viskovicz, yelled and increasing the speed on a Stairmaster. She fell off the machine in that incident and says that Viskovicz yelled at her. She also complains of being “coerced” to take hikes despite being tired and sore in her legs. That led to a fall that she claims caused injury. In another allegation, Pagliarolo complained that a girl would hum the theme song to Sea World when she was around.
These type of allegations make for a weak torts claim. Participants generally have to sign extensive waivers and Pagliarolo always had the ability to walk away. These shows are not a form of indentured servitude. Her parents were also present on the show set.
The consensual and contractual defense will make this a difficult case absent a showing of truly reckless and abusive conduct by the show.