Jewish World Review
http://www.jewishworldreview.com | (UPI) -- The Michigan Court of Appeals Wednesday overturned a $29 million judgment against the producers of the "Jenny Jones" show, saying they had no obligation to protect guests from each other.
The 2-1 decision grew out of the case filed against Warner Brothers, the "Jenny Jones" show and Telepictures by the family of Scott Amedure, who was shot to death by Jonathan Schmitz in March 1995 after the two appeared on a never-aired segment of the talk show dealing with secret crushes. Amedure revealed he had a crush on Schmitz.
"In sum, we conclude that defendants owed no duty as a matter of law to protect plaintiffs' decedent from the intentional criminal acts of a third party, Johanthan Schmitz, that occurred three days after the taping of the 'Jenny Jones' show," the court wrote.
"While defendants' actions in creating and producing this episode of the show may be regarded by many as the epitome of bad taste and sensationalism, such actions are, under the circumstances, insufficient to impute the requisite relationship between the parties that would give rise to a legally cognizable duty."
Schmitz was convicted of second-degree murder and is serving a 25- to 50-year sentence. During his trial he testified he was humiliated by the "Jenny Jones" appearance.
In their suit, Patricia Graves and Frank Amedure Sr. contended the defendants "ambushed" Schmitz, intentionally by withholding information that the show was about secret same-sex crushes. Schmitz had been under the impression a woman was involved.
Schmitz went to Amedure's home three days after the taping and shot him.
The court cited earlier rulings that "there is no general duty to anticipate and prevent criminal activity even where ... there have been prior incidents."
Jenny Jones said she is "elated" by the Court's ruling.
"Scott Amedure's murder was a horrible tragedy, but I have always believed that it was fundamentally wrong and unfair to blame the show," Jones said in a statement. "I am thrilled that the court of appeals agreed that the show could not possibly have predicted and prevented this brutal crime."
In his dissenting opinion, Appellate Judge William B. Murphy, said the defendants used "lies, deceit, sensationalism and outrageous behavior" to play on emotions and "orchestrate a grand surprise for the benefit of its audience and ratings."
"Taking into consideration Schmitz's personal mental frailties and dangerous inclinations, those circumstances could lead reasonable jurors to draw different conclusions as to whether it was foreseeable that Schmitz would commit an act of violence against Amedure. Therefore, resolution by the jury was appropriate."
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