Plaintiffs Rest, Defense Rebuts In 'Wii' Trial
October 14, 2009 at 1:54 PM (PT)
The wrongful death trial in SACRAMENTO between ENTERCOM COMMUNICATIONS and the family of JENNIFER STRANGE, who died after participating in the "Hold Your Wee For A Wii" contest held by Top 40 KDND (THE END) is wrapping up, with the plaintiffs' lawyer summarizing the "evidence against the defendants was overwhelming."
Attorney ROGER A. DREYER then asked for a verdict of between $24.6 million and $33.4 million.
"Understand and appreciate the value of a mother, a lover, a companion and a best friend," DREYER told the jury on the first day of closing arguments in the wrongful death trial, reports THE SACRAMENTO BEE. DREYER "implored jurors to hold defendants ENTERCOM SACRAMENTO LLC and its PHILADELPHIA-based parent, ENTERCOM COMMUNICATIONS CORP., liable for STRANGE's death."
"They need to make sure people don't do dangerous contests," DREYER said.
Defense: The Buck Stops At The Station, Not The Corporate
In its summation to the jury, ENTERCOM COMMUNICATIONS CORP. lawyer DONALD CARLSON asserted that while personnel at its KDND/SACRAMENTO made "serious, tragic mistakes," that doesn't automatically make the parent company liable. Counsel for the deceased's survivors have asked for awards totaling more than $40 million.
The SAC BEE reports that CARLSON admitted to the seven-man, five-woman jury that the broadcast of the DJs joking about the dangers of challenge "sounds horrible," but "the truth is that no one understood the harm at that time."
The attorney then placed the blame squarely on KDND Station Manager STEVE WEED and Promotions Dir. ROBIN PECHOTA for staging a contest that was in violation of the company's "clear and reasonable guidelines." Furthermore, all contests other than simple call-in giveaways had to be approved by Entercom's attorneys --which Weed and Pechota neglected to do.
"It wasn't as if these people were right off the street," CARLSON said. "Both of them had experience, and both of them made serious, tragic mistakes."
However, the attorney asserted that WEED and PECHOTA's failure to follow corporate guidelines doesn't automatically make Entercom liable for STRANGE's death. He noted that Judge LLOYD A. PHILLIPS, in his upcoming instructions to the jury, will state that ENTERCOM isn't by definition responsible if KDND is held liable.