Negligence claim against RIAA fails because there was no physical injury

Andersen v. Atlantic Recording Corp., 2010 WL 4791728 (D.Or. November 18, 2010) [Download complaint]

Tanya Andersen has waged a years-long battle against the record companies after she was sued for copyright infringement for trading music files via a peer-to-peer network. She sued the RIAA and several record companies over a number of claims, including one for negligence, saying that the plaintiffs in the copyright case were negligent by “prosecuting sham litigation against” her and by failing to properly investigate the name of a pseudonymous file sharer.

The RIAA defendants moved for summary judgment on the negligence claim. The court granted the motion.

The court held that Oregon law (under which the negligence claim was brought) does not provide for the type of damages Andersen was seeking. She had claimed damages from emotional distress and physical ailments stemming from defendants’ alleged negligence.

Oregon’s “impact rule,” requires a “physical touching” for there to be emotional distress damages in cases like this. In this case, the actions of the plaintiffs that gave rise to Andersen’s alleged harm were the aggressive and otherwise objectionable tactics in pursuing the copyright litigation. Absent evidence of the required physical impact, her negligence claim failed.

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