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$29 Million Judgment Against ``The Jenny Jones Show'' in a 1999 Civil Trial Thrown Out On Appeal

  • Thursday, October 24, 2002 10:00AM IST (4:30AM GMT)
Burbank, Calif., United States: The Michigan Court of Appeals Wednesday overturned the $29 million judgment entered against "The Jenny Jones Show" in 1999 stemming from the murder of a former guest, Scott Amedure, by another guest, Jonathan Schmitz. The Court held that the show "had no duty to anticipate and prevent the act of murder committed by Schmitz three days after leaving (the) studio and hundreds of miles away," and ordered the trial court to enter judgment on behalf of the show, and its production company, Telepictures Productions.

Said Telepictures President Jim Paratore, "We are deeply gratified by the Court's ruling. This important victory, however, in no way diminishes the tragedy of Scott Amedure's death. We continue to extend our deepest sympathy to the Amedure family for their terrible loss. But, for seven years, our position consistently and steadfastly has been that the show was not to blame for this brutal murder, and the Court has affirmed that the case against us had no legal merit and should have been thrown out of court long before it ever went to trial."

The civil lawsuit was initially filed in August of 1995, by the family of Scott Amedure, months after Scott Amedure was murdered by Jonathan Schmitz. Several days before the murder, both men had appeared as guests on an episode of "The Jenny Jones Show." During the taping, Amedure, who was gay, revealed he had a crush on Schmitz. The two men, who had been friends before the taping, flew back to Detroit together, went out drinking together, and made plans to go shopping together the following weekend. But days later, after Amedure left a blinking light and sexually suggestive note on Schmitz' doorstep, Schmitz went to Amedure's home and killed him. Schmitz was convicted of second degree murder and is currently serving a 27 - 50 year sentence.

In its eight-page ruling, the Michigan Court of Appeals found that Amedure's murder was completely unforeseeable, and therefore that "The Jenny Jones Show" had neither the ability nor the duty to predict and prevent it. Said the Court: "Schmitz gave every appearance of being a normal, well-adjusted adult who consented to being surprised on the show by a secret admirer of unknown sex and identity ... (N)othing in Schmitz' demeanor, or in any of his interactions with the show, put defendants on notice that he posed a risk of violence to others." Thus, the Court found, the case should never even have gone to the jury and "the trial court should have ruled that the murder was not foreseeable as a matter of law and entered judgment in favor of defendants." The Court further held that to find the show liable under the circumstances "would expand the concept of duty to limitless proportions."

Jenny Jones said she is "elated" by the Court's ruling. "Scott Amedure's murder was a horrible tragedy, but I have always believed that it was fundamentally wrong and unfair to blame the show. I am thrilled that the Court of Appeals agreed that the show could not possibly have predicted and prevented this brutal crime."

Several prominent media companies filed "friend of the court" briefs in support of "The Jenny Jones Show," including ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, the Michigan Association of Broadcasters and the Michigan Press Association.

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