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Publisher of 'hit man' manual settles lawsuit

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  1. Libel and Privacy
Publisher of 'hit man' manual settles lawsuit 05/31/99 MARYLAND--The publisher of a "hit man" manual agreed in late May to…

Publisher of ‘hit man’ manual settles lawsuit


MARYLAND–The publisher of a “hit man” manual agreed in late May to settle a lawsuit alleging that the book is at least partially responsible for the murders of three people in Silver Spring. The settlement stops distribution of the book and compensates the families of the murder victims with millions of dollars.

The settlement comes a year after the U.S. Supreme Court denied review of a decision by a federal appeals court in Richmond, Va. (4th Cir.) to allow the lawsuit to proceed to trial.

Paladin Press of Boulder, Colo. agreed to a settlement that provides the families with millions of dollars — although no specific amount was released to the public — and under which Paladin has agreed to stop selling and publishing the book.

According to the federal appellate court’s 1997 ruling, which the U.S. Supreme Court let stand by denying review in April 1998, the book, “Hit Man: A Technical Manual for Independent Contractors,” is not necessarily protected by the First Amendment because it provides instructions regarding how to become a professional hired killer.

The lawsuit against Paladin was filed by relatives of Mildred Horn, her 8-year-old quadriplegic son, Trevor, and Trevor’s nurse, Janice Saunders, who were shot and killed by James Perry in 1993. Perry, who was hired by Horn’s ex-husband, Lawrence, to commit the murders, allegedly read the hit man manual before carrying out the murders.

Perry was convicted of the murders in 1993 and now is on death row. Lawrence Horn was sentenced to life in prison for hiring Perry to commit the murders in an effort to obtain funds acquired by his son in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

According to Washington Post reports, Paladin’s insurance carrier made the decision to settle.

The agreement did not affect copies of the book already in circulation, and by late May, the text of the book was available on at least one independent web site. (Rice v. Paladin Enters., Inc.; Media Counsel: Lee Levine, Washington, D.C.)