17 January 2007

As close to a guaranteed lawsuit as you're ever going to see....

It doesn't take a legal education or a ouija board to foresee the claims which will soon be filed in Sacramento against a radio station which arranged a "Hold Your Wee for a Wii" contest which caused the death of one of its participants:
28-year-old Jennifer Strange of Rancho Cardova [sic], CA was found dead inside her home on Friday afternoon after competing in a radio station-sponsored competition which pitted hopefuls against one another for the prize of Nintendo's latest and greatest. Instead of competing on the playing fields of Wii sports or the Japanese streets of Red Steel, however, contestants gathered inside the studios of Sacramento's KDND The End to see who could drink the most water without urinating. The ridiculously-titled "Hold Your Wee for a Wii" contest had entrants imbibe eight ounces of water every fifteen minutes for 90 minutes, after which they were given larger portions until a winner emerged. Ms. Strange -- who did not win -- left the studio in tears, and she was last heard from by her employers at Radiological Associates of Sacramento complaining of a terrible headache. Autopsy results released yesterday showed signs of water intoxication, wherein the body's electrolyte levels are dangerously unbalanced due to a rapid intake of the seemingly harmless liquid.

Strange was a mother of three who was trying to win the gaming console for her children. A representative from the station's ownership expressed his regrets:
John Geary, vice president and marketing manager for Entercom Sacramento, the station's owner, said station staff were "stunned" at the tragedy. He said: "We are awaiting information that will help explain how this tragic event occurred."

John, here's some information concerning water intoxication; now you can turn your attention to your legal defense. Best of luck with that.

UPDATE: Via Evan Schaeffer, I found this excellent commentary from Professor William Childs at TortsProf Blog:
[A]ssumption of risk requires knowledge of the risk; I just (finally!) finished grading a whole pile of exams addressing that very point. Grabbing the closest-at-hand hornbook (Shapo's), "Courts often require defendants to show that plaintiffs had highly specific knowledge of a hazard." In other words, it's not enough to say that "Well, everything in excess is bad for you, and she knew that." (Additionally, to respond to yet another comment from the same poster, this is already a subjective test and would require nothing like legislative action.)

Even if one thinks that the specificity of knowledge required is too great (and there's a good argument for that), I've seen nothing suggesting that the decedent knew that there was any risk -- certainly not one of death -- from drinking lots of water.


1 comment:

RC said...

I imagine that this station will fold up because of this, or be bought out with all new branding etc.

a situation like this is real bad...really bad.

--RC of strangeculture.blogspot.com