When I read Beyonce and Jay-Z paid $1.3million to section off a part of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York for delivery of their child, Blue Ivy Carter as reported by news media, I smelt a potential lawsuit from afar. Should celebrities place other expecting families in distress just because they are having their baby? What about the hospital? What is their responsibility and legal liability? Read the excerpt first:
“Hip-hop parents Beyoncé and Jay-Z were in lullaby land with their baby girl Blue Ivy Carter Sunday, but one new dad was fuming over the velvet rope in the maternity ward that kept him away from his twins.
Neil Coulon, 38, of Brooklyn said the stress of his wife delivering two premature girls was tripled by Beyoncé’s bodyguards treating Lenox Hill Hospital like an exclusive nightclub.
Coulon griped that he’s been repeatedly barred from the sixth-floor neonatal intensive care unit, once for 20 minutes, by the superstar couple’s private security.
He said bodyguards wearing headsets even cleared the sixth floor waiting room, booting his relatives out.
“Three times they stopped me from entering or exiting the NICU (Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit) and it happened once on Friday — just because they wanted to use the hallway,” said Coulon, a contractor from Bedford-Stuyvesant.
“They should have been more strategic about it,” he said. “These are children with problems in intensive care and you’re just going to take over the hospital like you own it? All I want is an apology.”
Lenox Hill staffers, speaking anonymously, told the Daily News that Beyoncé and Jay-Z paid $1.3 million to seal off and redecorate a wing at the upper East Side hospital, in a super-strict effort to protect their privacy.
Beyoncé gave birth to her daughter, Blue Ivy Carter, Saturday night on the sixth floor, near the NICU, a hospital staffer told The News.
“Some people were upset,” the staffer said. “I heard a gentleman say he couldn’t go upstairs to see his baby (Saturday).”
Hospital spokeswoman Anne Silverman said she had not personally heard of the complaints.
“We take patient satisfaction very seriously,” Silverman told The News. “This is the first time I’m hearing about it.”
Coulon scoffed at the double-standard treatment.
“I know they spent $1.3 million and I’m just a contractor from Bed-Stuy, but the treatment we received was not okay,” Coulon said. “My wife is just terribly upset. She had a C-section. She gave birth to twins. She is sore. Nobody needs this.”
Coulon insisted he wasn’t the only new parent upset by the hip-hop hassles in the hospital.
“This is the NICU. Nobody cares if you’re a celebrity. Nobody is star-gazing. They just want to see their children,” fumed Coulon, whose wife delivered two premature and underweight girls on Wednesday.-New York Daily News
Legal Issues Raised
2. Negligent Supervision
3. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
What area of Law?
What are the Possible Arguments under a Negligence claim?
Area of Law
Under a negligence claim, the argument would be as follows:
1) The hospital had a duty of care to make sure Mr. Coulon had privacy and access to his twins. In legal speak, Defendant had a duty of care to conform to a specific standard of conduct to protect forseeable Plaintiffs like Mr. Coulon.
2) Defendant (hospital) breached that duty
3)Defendant’s breach was the “actual and proximate” cause of Plaintiff’s injury – Father was denied access to his wife and twins, especially given the fact that father’s twins were delivered by C-section. He needed to be there for his wife and also for his twins.
4) Plaintiff suffered damages – Father and wife suffered damages.
Negligent Supervision claim would essentially follow the same basic line of argument but focus on the supervision of hospital staff and/or bodyguards so they that they avoided placing the family in such situation.
Intentional infliction of emotional distress
This claim is actually a sexier claim for the Plaintiff’s lawyer. First, for this claim in general, there has to be a showing of:
- An act by the hospital that amounted to extreme and outrageous conduct. Is it extreme and outrageous for “B” and Jay-Z to have sectioned off a part of the hospital just to have their daughter? That is an argument a Plaintiff lawyer will have to make and a jury will have to decide. A compelling case could be made that it is not given Beyonce’s status as an A-list celebrity. However, is she the first A-list celebrity to have a baby?
- There has to be intent on the part of the hospital to cause Plaintiff Coulon and his wife severe emotional distress or recklessness as to the effect of the Hospital’s conduct in sectioning off the hospital and permitting bodyguards, without supervision, to prevent Coulon from seeing his family. This is where I expect the real battle, if the case gets before a jury, to really be.
- Causation- Your lawyer cannot prevail on your behalf on any tort claim if you cannot establish causation. You have to show that an act of a defendant caused an injury suffered. Here, this is a moot issue.
- Finally, a claim for IIED must show damages i.e. severe emotional distress.
This case if filed, should settle and settle quickly. I expect it too.
FASHIONENTLAW blog, authored by Ms. Uduak, was first established in 2010. It is now incorporated, in 2021, as part of the FASHIONENTLAW LAW FIRM blog. The blog is for informational purposes only and provides legal commentary and analysis on the intersection of mainstream America pop culture and the law. It also provides updates on Ms. Uduak’s speaking engagements and press activities. For inquiries on topics covered please email (firstname.lastname@example.org).