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Appeals panel throws out jury verdict in talk show murder case

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    NMU         MICHIGAN         Newsgathering         Oct 29, 2002    

Appeals panel throws out jury verdict in talk show murder case

  • Jenny Jones’ gay crush show may have been in bad taste, but it isn’t liable for the murder of Scott Amedure, the court held.

The Michigan Court of Appeals threw out a jury’s $29.3 million award against “The Jenny Jones Show,” saying the talk show had no legal responsibility to protect a guest who was murdered after revealing a gay crush to another guest.

The appeals panel, in a 2-1 ruling released Oct. 22, reversed the 1999 decision of an Oakland County jury that found the show’s owner, Warner Bros., and its distributor, Telepictures, liable for the death of 32-year-old Scott Amedure.

Amedure was shot and killed by 24-year-old Jonathan Schmitz in 1995, three days after he revealed an attraction to Schmitz during a taping of the show in Chicago. The segment never aired.

Schmitz was convicted of second-degree murder in 1996 and is serving a 25- to 50-year sentence in the Saginaw County prison

Amedure’s family sued the talk show in 1995, alleging that the show should have known that their actions would incite violence. An Oakland County jury awarded them $29.3 million.

But the Court of Appeals reversed that decision saying that the show “may be regarded as the epitome of bad taste and sensationalism,” but that wasn’t liable for Amedure’s death.

“Logic compels the conclusion that defendants in this case had no duty to anticipate and prevent the act of murder committed by Schmitz three days after leaving defendants’ studio and hundreds of miles away,” the court wrote in its opinion.

In a dissenting opinion, Judge William Murphy said the show failed to check Schmitz’s personal history, which included mental illness, alcohol and drug abuse.

Attorney Geoffrey Fieger, who represents Amedure’s family, said he would appeal the ruling.

(Graves v. Warner Bros.) JL

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