Lawsuit over man’s death on reality show can proceed

Mark Chanko, who was at one time a resident of Stuyvesant Town, died in 2011, but unbeknownst to his family, his final moments were filmed for a reality show. He’s pictured (left) with son Ken, currently a Stuy Town resident, in 2006

Mark Chanko, who was at one time a resident of Stuyvesant Town, died in 2011, but unbeknownst to his family, his final moments were filmed for a reality show. He’s pictured (left) with son Ken, currently a Stuy Town resident, in 2006

By Sabina Mollot

The Court of Appeals has allowed a lawsuit filed by the family of a late former resident of Stuyvesant Town, who unbeknownst to him had been filmed for a reality show as he lie dying in a hospital room, to proceed.

The widow and grown children of Mark Chanko, the man who was filmed at the hospital following being hit by a truck, had appealed a decision by the Appellate Court to dismiss the suit. However, in a decision last Thursday, a judge ruled that while the suit can go on against the hospital, New York Presbyterian, the ABC network that was responsible for the show, mini-series “NY Med” featuring Dr. Mehmet Oz, is no longer a defendant. New York Presbyterian Hospital and Doctor Sebastian Schubl, who treated Chanko, are still named as defendants.

In the court decision, Judge Leslie Stein also ruled that the suit alleging a breach of patient/physician confidentiality could continue while another charge of deliberate infliction of distress was dropped.

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ABC show with Dr. Oz filmed dying man without permission

Stuy Town resident and family’s suit to be heard in Court of Appeals

Ken Chanko Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Ken Chanko (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

It was in April of 2011 when Stuyvesant Town resident Ken Chanko lost his father, Mark, after he was fatally hit by a truck.

Mark Chanko, who also lived in Stuyvesant Town for most of his life and was a Korean War army veteran, was struck on the street in front of where he’d lived in more recent years, in Yorkville. He was 83.

Because the death was caused by an accident, and the driver wasn’t drunk, there were no criminal charges filed.

But then, nearly a year and half later, Ken Chanko and the rest of his family wound up experiencing Mark’s death a second time — this time because it was broadcast on a reality show that was filmed – without his father’s or any of the Chankos’ knowledge — at the hospital where Mark had been treated.

The show, “NY Med,” featuring television personality Dr. Mehmet Oz, was filmed at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, a medical institution which, along with the show’s network, ABC, has since ended up on the end of a lawsuit filed by the Chanko family, alleging breach of medical confidentiality and pain and suffering. ABC, after initially being contacted by Ken, did agree to pull the segment that included the segment about his father, and to not include it in a DVD for the episode slated for later release. However, the family still went ahead on filing a lawsuit, when, according to Ken, there was “no apology and no admission of wrongdoing.” Pulling the segment, he added, “wasn’t out of the goodness of their hearts.” In fact, he added that at first, a hospital rep had told him she couldn’t do anything about it and that he should call ABC.

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