A California jury decided in favor of a California family to the tune of $16.5 million. The family filed a wrongful death suit in 2007 after Jennifer Strange died participating in an on air radio contest.
KDND-FM aired the contest, “Hold your Wee for a Wii” back in January of 2005 in which the contestants were to drink as much water as possible without going to the bathroom. The winner received a Wii game. Jennifer died of water intoxication 12 hours later. As a result, the family sought medical, legal, and burial costs and punitive damages.
The lawsuit named KDND parent company Entercom/Sacramento, the deejays and other employees who participated in organizing and marketing the contest. The radio station had claimed that the contestants had signed waivers; however, the waivers were never produced in court.
The evidence showed that the station and deejays were actually warned during the contest of the dangers of water intoxication, yet showed their callousness towards the situation. The deejays actually stated on-air “that they should have done more research once various participants (Strange), began to report medical symptoms,” according to the lawsuit.
This was, in my opinion as a personal injury attorney, just flat out irresponsibility by the radio station and its employees. They aired this contest having superior knowledge of the potential harmful effects of extreme water consumption. Did you know that you could die from too much water consumption? I would imagine that the vast majority of people do not know this. However, in this case, the radio station did. Despite their superior knowledge, they marketed the contest as though it were a game, and dangled the prize at the end. The media are required to be far more responsible than this. Obviously the California jury agreed.
Defendants will usually try to get their case dismissed by claiming they "did not know" the risks involved. It is the plaintiff’s attorney’s responsibility to prove this superior knowledge and in this case, the proof was right their on audio tape.
For the purpose of this blog I Googled “Can someone drink too much water?” The headings that came up included “Water Intoxication & Hyponatremia”, “Why Drinking Too Much Water Is Dangerous”, and “Strange but True: Drinking Too Much Water Can Kill”. For your benefit, not so that others aren’t held accountable, but so that that you get to be around for your family, do a little research.
The Strange family in California needlessly lost a wife and mother, for a mere chance at winning a Wii. Very sad.