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'Jenny Jones' Not Liable for Guest's Death

October 24, 2002|Meg James | Times Staff Writer

The "Jenny Jones Show" was not responsible for the death of a guest, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday, throwing out a $29.3-million jury verdict.

In 1995, Jonathan Schmitz shot and killed Scott Amedure three days after they appeared on a "Jenny Jones Show" segment on confessions of secret admirers. The segment never aired.

Schmitz was convicted of second-degree murder and felony possession of a firearm and sentenced to 25 to 50 years in prison.

Amedure's family filed a wrongful death action against Warner Bros., a unit of AOL Time Warner Inc., the "Jenny Jones Show," and the show's producer, Telepictures. The family contended that Schmitz was "ambushed" because the show's producers did not tell Schmitz that same sex crushes were the theme of the show -- an allegation denied by the show.

But the court ruled that the show and its producers "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 judges wrote that Schmitz was neither "visibly upset nor dangerous during the taping of the show."

Warner Bros. deputy counsel Zazi Pope said: "One of the things this verdict stands for is that individuals are accountable for their own actions. For the show to be able to predict and prevent that kind of conduct would be completely untenable."

Jones released a statement saying, "Scott Amedure's murder was a horrible tragedy, but I have always believed that it was fundamentally wrong and unfair to blame the show."

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