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'Dr. Phil's' Nude Man Lawsuit Can Go Forward

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By Jason Beahm on January 11, 2011 8:52 AM

A California appeals court has ruled against the "Dr. Phil" show in a strange and convoluted legal matter involving a naked man on Dr. Phil. The court found that the plaintiffs have a probability of prevailing on their claim, and therefore have a right to proceed. That means that the case may head to trial. It appeared initially that CBS might win the case by arguing that its conduct was protected free speech. However, the 2nd District Court of Appeal reversed a significant portion of that decision, allowing the case to proceed.

However the court did throw out the negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress claims due to the releases they signed before appearing on the show. "Dr. Phil" McGraw and producers, including CBS, were sued by several women who allege that they were falsely imprisoned and forced to remain in a room with a naked man. It was part of a 2007 episode of "The Dr. Phil House," a sort of spinoff of the "Dr. Phil" show.

The lawsuit was originally filed by Shirley Rae Dieu, 56, of Irvine and Crystal Matchett, 26, of Westland, Mich. in March 2009. The suit includes claims of fraud, misrepresentation, negligence, breach of fiduciary duty and infliction of emotional distress, among others, says The Hollywood Reporter. The show in question was filmed in September 2007 and put six individuals of mixed genders in a house on a CBS soundstage and allegedly were barred from leaving. According to the lawsuit, after the third night, Dr. Phil appeared on a television monitor and announced "Here's your dinner guest," after which a naked man appeared at the front door.

The women who filed the suit claimed they were horrified and ran away and locked themselves in a room, which drew only laughter from the TV crew, who they say refused to let them leave despite their desperate pleas. They claimed they were extremely scared of the naked man on the Dr. Phil episode.

McGraw's attorneys and the network have stood behind the episode, saying the stunt was meant to challenge the women's tolerance, the Beverly Hills Courier reports.

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