The radio station made up the contest rules "on the spot," the plaintiffs' attorneys said, in pursuit of "sheer entertainment value" and top ratings in the Sacramento market. The result: a young mom who died trying to win a popular video game for her family.
But if the outcome was tragic, defense lawyers argued, still far from predictable was that anybody could die in a water-drinking contest. And if anybody was negligent, they said some of the responsibility has to be placed on the victim herself.
More than 2 1/2 years after 31-year-old Jennifer Strange succumbed from the contest put on by the country's eighth-largest broadcasting company, jury selection in the wrongful death trial is scheduled to begin today in Sacramento Superior Court.
It's a case that will determine if Philadelphia-based Entercom Communications Corp. and the general manager of its six-station Sacramento subsidiary are responsible for the contest death that left three children motherless and a husband a widower, and if so, how much the company should pay.
Attorneys have been barred from talking about the case because of a gag order imposed by Judge Lloyd A. Phillips, but they communicated their thoughts loud and clear in trial briefs filed last month.
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