A DISCUSSION OF LAW AND JOURNALISM

Tag: wrongful death

Angelina’s Lover Killed on Ski Trip?!

Brad and Angelina Snow

By Aleksandra Kravets

Relax. Brad Pitt is alive and well. But this is exactly how rumors start … and before you know it, they go mega-viral. Adam Sandler, Eddie Murphy, Lady Gaga, and 50 Cent, are only a few of the stars who’ve been recently targeted by false death hoaxes.

Entrepreneur Rich Hoover is partly to blame.

Mr. Hoover created Fakeawish.com, which allows anyone to plug a celebrity’s name into an online generator that creates morbid celebrity headlines, from jet-ski crashes in the tepid waters off the Turks and Caicos to snowboarding accidents in the glacial Swiss mountains.

For him, “no publicity is bad publicity” isn’t just an adage, it’s a career ethos.  False death reports harm nobody. It may even help them.  After all, he says “it’s free press.”

And a media expert will back him up.

Mark Bell, a professor at Indiana University-Purdue University who studies deception in digital media, told the New York Times that there’s “not a lot of cost, either financially, morally, legally or criminally” in what Mr. Hoover does.

We weren’t sold on that theory.

Back in September, Jerry Springer was cruising down the highway when he heard the news of his death in a car crash. He had to pull over to call home and pacify his shaken wife, who, as he’d expected, had heard the false report, too. But what if his wife had been the one driving when she heard the report… and became so distraught that she crashed her car? Or, upon hearing the terrible news, took her own life?

LASIS investigates.

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LAPD Sued By Family of Ex-High School Football Star

LAPD_Badge_Series_6_13247copyA

The LASIS Staff

LASIS covered the story of the shooting a few months ago…

Should the LAPD pay for the death of Reginald Doucet, Jr.? The Doucet family thinks so. And now they’ve filed a wrongful death suit.

 

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The Case of the Dangerous Starbucks Tip Jar

tipjar

By David Krisch

Roger Kreutz was waiting in line at Starbucks when he saw nineteen-year-old Aaron Poisson steal the Starbucks tip jar and run.  Mr. Kreutz decided to chase down the thief and, after a physical altercation outside the store, the thief got into his car and ran over Mr. Kreutz, who, as a result, died from head injuries. Curiously, Mr. Kreutz’s family is suing Starbucks for wrongful death, alleging that Starbucks should have known that leaving tip jars within plain view and easy reach of patrons invited criminal behavior; as a result of this foreseeable criminal behavior, they claim, Mr. Kreutz was killed. The Kreutzes further allege that Starbucks failed to exercise reasonable care in providing security or otherwise guard against the known danger.

HuffPo outlined these facts but didn’t examine the likelihood of success for the Kreutz estate. We will. (more…)

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Wrongful Death, or Frivolous Lawsuit?

By Jarrod Perry

In December 2009, actress Brittney Murphy, 32, passed away at her Hollywood Hills home.  Although the results of an autopsy will not be known for several weeks, according to CNN, it appears Murphy died of natural causes and there were no signs of foul play or trauma.  But Simon Monjack, Murphy’s surviving husband, believes there is a culprit to blame for his wife’s death.  As The Daily Beast reported, Monjack will be suing Warner Bros. in a wrongful death action, citing Warner’s firing Murphy from the “Happy Feet” sequel as causing the stress that ultimately led to a heart attack that resulted in Murphy’s death.  Coverage of the story largely fell short by glossing over the actual merits of the claim in question.  Any analysis of the claim would make it painfully clear that the suit is completely frivolous.

A wrongful death action is a lawsuit brought by a surviving family member against an entity he believes caused the death of his family member through a wrongful act or negligence.  If successful, a plaintiff in a wrongful death action may be entitled to economic damages such as funeral expenses, medical bills, and loss of future earnings, as well as non-economic damages such as loss of consortium (deprivation of the benefits of a family relationship) and mental suffering.

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