Jury awards $16.57 million to radio contestant's survivors

Television, movies, and politics

Moderator: JediGuy

Post Reply
Message
Author
User avatar
Worth 1000 Words
Posts: 7558
Joined: Mon Jul 14, 2008 1:43 am
Location: Neither here nor there

Jury awards $16.57 million to radio contestant's survivors

#1 Post by Schrodinger » Fri Oct 30, 2009 12:20 pm

http://www.baltimoresun.com/health/sns- ... 4318.story

SACRAMENTO, Calif. A Sacramento Superior Court jury Thursday awarded the survivors of Jennifer Lea Strange $16,577,118 as a result of her death nearly three years ago in a water-drinking contest conducted by a local radio station.

In making the award, the seven-man, five-woman panel found that Entercom Sacramento LLC, the local subsidiary of Entercom Communications Corp. of Philadelphia was negligent in putting on the contest that ultimately resulted in Strange's death.

Plaintiffs lawyers had asked the jury for an award for economic and non-economic damages in a range of $34 million to $44.3 million.

Strange, 28, died Jan. 12, 2007, after participating in what KDND promoted as its "Hold Your Wee for a Wii" contest that promised the popular Nintendo video game to whomever could drink the most water without urinating or vomiting. The Sacramento County Coroner's Office determined that she died of acute water intoxication. The Sacramento County Sheriff's Department investigated the case to see if it was a homicide, but no criminal charges were filed.

Plaintiffs attorneys filed the wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of her husband, William Strange, individually and as guardian of their two young children, Ryland, 6, and Jorie, 3; and Ronald Sims, the father and guardian of the woman's oldest son, Keegan, 13. The plaintiffs charged that the defendants were negligent in holding the contest.

Defense attorneys countered that Strange's death was unforeseeable and that if there was any liability on the part of the Entercom defendants, it had to be offset by the woman's own "contributory negligence."

Forty-one witnesses testified and lawyers entered 192 exhibits into evidence in the trial that began on Sept. 8 with jury selection.

To prove their case, plaintiffs attorneys Roger A. Dreyer and Harvey R. Levine needed to demonstrate that KDND's ``Morning Rave" on-air talent and the station's managers acted negligently within the course and scope of their employment at Entercom Sacramento in putting on the contest and that it caused harm to Jennifer Strange.

The plaintiffs lawyers played tapes of the "Morning Rave" show the day of the contest, where the disc jockeys made fun about contestants throwing up and about the possibility of somebody dying from drinking too much water. The jokes continued even after the DJs received several calls including some they played on the air from listeners who expressed concerns that drinking too much water could be dangerous, plaintiffs argued.

Station manager Steve Weed and Entercom's top official in Sacramento, John Geary, both had received complaints ahead of time about the behavior and antics of the "Morning Rave" crew from KDND promotions director Robin Pechota, the plaintiffs argued. But management failed to rein in the DJs, the lawyers said.

Although the antics of the DJs held the potential to expose Entercom Sacramento to liability, Judge Lloyd A. Phillips instructed the jury that Entercom Communications Corp. could not be found negligent for the actions of its subsidiary employees "merely by reason of ownership or control."

The lawyers for Strange's survivors asked jurors to establish the connection of liability to the parent corporation through what the plaintiffs viewed as a lack of training the subsidiary's managers received from Entercom Communication Corp.'s legal team in Boston. The plaintiffs lawyers argued that the corporate lawyers never educated or clearly communicated to the Sacramento managers the company's policies barring contests that were dangerous, in bad taste, or that reflected poorly on the morals and ethics of the company, and that the word in turn then never filtered down to the on-air talent.

Steve Maney, one of the DJs on KDND's morning show, testified that neither Geary, Weed nor Pechota ever talked to any of the "Morning Rave" crew about contest guidelines.

"We were never told what the rules were," said Maney, who described himself to the jury as the morning crew's in-house "[censored]."
What was it the spider said to the fly...

User avatar
Grand Templar
Posts: 1425
Joined: Sat Aug 23, 2008 11:02 pm
Location: The land of Pimps, Playas, and Pain Purveyours

Re: Jury awards $16.57 million to radio contestant's survivors

#2 Post by Pteroid » Fri Oct 30, 2009 2:26 pm

Well, there's something you don't see everyday.
Image

User avatar
Too Curious For His Own Good
Posts: 6432
Joined: Tue Apr 07, 2009 8:28 pm
Location: Indiana X3
Contact:

Re: Jury awards $16.57 million to radio contestant's survivors

#3 Post by supervanman64 » Fri Oct 30, 2009 2:33 pm

Pteroid wrote:Well, there's something you don't see everyday.
Indeed. That it doesn't.

I'm sad that someone died and all, but suing rarely results in any good for anyone. It doesn't bring the person back. And I don't see why the station would be totally responsible.

Eh...this entire situation blows. :?

User avatar
Pumpkin Hunter
Posts: 3153
Joined: Thu Apr 23, 2009 11:21 pm
Location: Some where in Canada, :P

Re: Jury awards $16.57 million to radio contestant's survivors

#4 Post by coal » Fri Oct 30, 2009 11:16 pm

supervanman64 wrote:
Pteroid wrote:Well, there's something you don't see everyday.
Indeed. That it doesn't.

I'm sad that someone died and all, but suing rarely results in any good for anyone. It doesn't bring the person back. And I don't see why the station would be totally responsible.

Eh...this entire situation blows. :?
*Nods in agreement with vanman64*

User avatar
Grand Templar
Posts: 2311
Joined: Wed Jul 01, 2009 5:55 am
Location: Sage Asuka's box

Re: Jury awards $16.57 million to radio contestant's survivors

#5 Post by PhycoKrusk » Sat Oct 31, 2009 8:32 am

supervanman64 wrote:
Pteroid wrote:Well, there's something you don't see everyday.
Indeed. That it doesn't.

I'm sad that someone died and all, but suing rarely results in any good for anyone. It doesn't bring the person back. And I don't see why the station would be totally responsible.

Eh...this entire situation blows. :?
You're right in that it doesn't bring the person back, but litigation in this case isn't to get restitution for the deceased. The award may be over $16 million, but I would be surprised if much of that was for restitution. Most of it is likely punitive damages, which are intended to pushing the defendant for their behavior to discourage them (and other entities) from doing it again.

Additionally, the reason the station is being sued is because, while on their radio programme, the DJs were acting as agents of the station. While the station may not actually be at fault, they are legally wholly liable for what happened.
Image

User avatar
Templar
Posts: 352
Joined: Sun Sep 06, 2009 1:39 am
Location: Chicago, the beautiful city.

Re: Jury awards $16.57 million to radio contestant's survivors

#6 Post by Sleight of Word » Tue Nov 03, 2009 10:38 pm

I've heard of a few other cases of Acute Water Intoxication. My general advise is never to stand in the way of your body's natural processes, and that includes Homeostasis.
i.e.
Go if you gotta.

I still find the D.J's acted irresponsibly. In general, that sounds like a completely unappealing and stupid concept, and continuing without consulting someone of even moderate medical understanding despite several warnings is just asking for it.
Heavy Decibels are playing on my guitar,
we got vibrations coming up from the floor.
We're just listening to the Rock that's giving too much noise,
Are you deaf, you wanna hear some more?

User avatar
Templar GrandMaster
Posts: 667
Joined: Wed Jan 07, 2009 11:18 am

Re: Jury awards $16.57 million to radio contestant's survivors

#7 Post by The Jasenator » Wed Nov 04, 2009 1:00 am

I really don't see how anyone other than Ms. Strange can be held accountable for her death. It just seems silly to sue the station. :?

User avatar
Grand Templar
Posts: 2311
Joined: Wed Jul 01, 2009 5:55 am
Location: Sage Asuka's box

Re: Jury awards $16.57 million to radio contestant's survivors

#8 Post by PhycoKrusk » Wed Nov 04, 2009 4:59 am

The Jasenator wrote:I really don't see how anyone other than Ms. Strange can be held accountable for her death. It just seems silly to sue the station. :?
The station is being sued because that's the way contract law works here (California). The DJ are employed under contract by the station, to represent the station's interests as its agents. Legally, this means they are the station when they're on the job. The contest they held was dangerous, they knew it was likely to be dangerous, and they didn't stop to investigate when people started getting sick. The behaved irresponsibly, and since the judge found for the plaintiff, they agreed that the DJs acted irresponsibly and knowingly put people in danger. Because of the way contract law works, that technically means the station acted irresponsibly and knowingly put people in danger.

So, the station is sued, and there you have it.
Image

Post Reply