Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
January 17, 2007
LAW: Simmering Gun

My initial reaction to the story of a 28-year-old mother of three who died from "water intoxication" after a radio show contest to see who could drink the most water without using a bathroom ("Hold your wee for a Wii!") was that (1) it was a horrible tragedy, especially for her kids, (2) it sounded like rather a dumb idea for a contest, but (3) I didn't think much of the inevitable lawsuit because really, radio show DJs aren't exactly rocket scientists and aren't any better situated than the average person to know the hazards of drinking too much water. The blind leading the blind, you might say.

But it turns out that the DJs were joking on the air during the contest about precisely those risks, the radio station has fired everyone involved, and a criminal investigation has been opened. In which case this is a much bigger problem for the radio station.

Chances that this story will spawn an episode of CSI: about 99%.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:20 PM | Law 2006-08 | Comments (13) | TrackBack (0)

Were was the legal department, I find it hard to believe in this day and age that any contest would not be fully vetted by the legal department.

Posted by: Javaman at January 17, 2007 11:41 PM

They actually have some of the transcripts on They replayed the audio on a morning show in my area (Jacksonville, FL) this morning. They were pretty flippant about the risks.

As far as the legal dept. goes, that's a great question. For that matter, what about the management? I love the ex post facto responses of mgt. when a stunt or contest goes awry. I remember the morning show in Phoenix that was run because of comments made to the widow of Darryl Kyle.

I was thinking the exact same thing that baseballcrank was thinking, except instead of CSI, it was Law and Order.

Posted by: saherrin at January 18, 2007 10:59 AM

Well, CSI and the L&O shows are on different networks. So, probably both.

Posted by: The Crank at January 18, 2007 11:53 AM

OK, so what is wrong with this picture? If she signed a release (highly likely), and the DJs joked the entire time about the dangers, then if she didn't know it ahead of time, then she knew about it DURING. And yet she continued. Whatever happened to personal responsibility? I know, I know.

My guess is that not only will the station be sued, but Nintendo as well, for the name. And it will for sure be on Law and Order.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at January 18, 2007 1:08 PM

This more of a L&O plot, as the drama will be in court and there won't be much mystery as to the death...

Here's my CSI plot I was working on in my head this morning walking the dog. Killed by falling icicle. The "weapon" melts, and there's your mystery...

Yeah it's lame, but it would be a particularl "stumper" in Vegas or Miami... :-)

Posted by: Mr. Furious at January 18, 2007 1:32 PM

Furious - It's been done. CSI Miami did an episode where the murder weapon was made of ice, and melted.

Daryl - Yes, I anticipate a wholly meritless lawsuit against Nintendo.

Posted by: The Crank at January 18, 2007 1:41 PM

I guess I don't follow where the radio station is culpable. Not being a lawyer, if the contest had been to drink more whiskey, would the station have been liable? Since then its clear that whiskey is risky?

I've known that drinking too much water could kill you since I was 5 or something like that. If the radio hosts were joking about it, then how come she didn't know? And for a wii?


Posted by: Brendan at January 18, 2007 1:45 PM

If the old lady could beat McDonalds for selling her hot coffee how does this woman's estate lose? She was trying to win a contest for her kids, obviously did not comprehend the risk. Whose fault? Hers, but the family will get paid.

Posted by: abe at January 18, 2007 2:24 PM

Actually, the civil suit was just announced (check out the Sacramento Bee website.)

Posted by: saherrin at January 18, 2007 2:40 PM

Her survivors may sue. They may win. The transcripts may help. But I agree with Daryl about this: When you're an idiot, a jury shouldn't give you the time of day. Then again, you know why they call it a jury of your peers.

Posted by: Attila (Pillage Idiot) at January 18, 2007 6:03 PM

It will be settled for the same reason the employees were fired...they have advertisers and they want this to go away fast. Perfect place for a quick settlement. Plaintiffs will take it for the same reasons described here...duty is going to be a tough sell to get past MSJ.

Posted by: AstroFan at January 18, 2007 7:01 PM

I guess I don't follow where the radio station is culpable. Not being a lawyer, if the contest had been to drink more whiskey, would the station have been liable? Since then its clear that whiskey is risky?

Because the station has money and was inducing people to do something for money AND they repeatedly ignored either their own suspicions or those who were better informed. The situation was made worse because a coworker of a nurse called in to inform the DJs of the potential hazards of their actions, and they blew off the woman. Even one of the DJs knew about the problems, and still did nothing.

There's an even lower threshold for damages, i.e., you can be sued for leaving a pool unguarded if a child drowns and there's an open gate (look up attractive nuisance).

Posted by: Rob McMillin at January 23, 2007 12:58 AM

Rob, an adult can't bring an "attractive nuisance" claim. This woman was 28.

I suspect the family does have a strong lawsuit, and perhaps should based on the station's actual knowledge of the hazards. But it's also true, as some of the other commenters have pointed out, that she probably had as much ability to understand the dangers as the radio station did.

Posted by: The Crank at January 23, 2007 9:49 AM
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