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What would you do?(9 posts)

What would you do?rideslikeagirl
Jun 13, 2002 2:25 PM
"LOS ANGELES, California (Reuters) -- MTV has been slapped with a $10 million lawsuit from a couple who say they were surprised by a fake corpse in their hotel room as part of a hidden-camera prank for a reality TV show.

James and Laurie Ann Ryan, of Washington, D.C., also named the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas in the suit, which accuses the resort and the cable network of invasion of privacy, infliction of emotional distress and fraud, among other things, their attorney said on Wednesday.

The suit, originally filed in Los Angeles in April but gaining public attention this week after it was moved to federal court, said the couple became unwitting participants in a practical joke filmed for a series under development at MTV called "Harassment" while they were on vacation in January.

Upon entering the hotel room, the Ryans "discovered what appeared to be a dead human body covered and surrounded by blood, evidently the victim of a homicide," as hidden cameras recorded their shock, the suit says.

As the couple tried to flee, two actors posing as security guards blocked their way, and a third individual in the guise of a paramedic entered the room.

The show's host and co-producer, Ashton Kutcher, who has described the series in interviews as a "guerrilla-style Candid Camera," finally emerged to reveal the prank.

The Ryans were not amused. They are seeking $10 million in compensatory damages against MTV, the Hard Rock Hotel and Kutcher, who also is named in the suit, said their lawyer, Daniel Rozansky.

Both the cable network, which is owned by Viacom Inc., and the privately owned hotel declined to comment on the case.

An MTV spokeswoman said the incident in question was filmed as part of a pilot episode for "Harassment," which has not aired. She said the future status of the program is uncertain.

"Harassment" is not the first reality show to land MTV in legal trouble. Two teenage girls sued the network in April, 2001 after they were sprayed with human excrement by performers billed as the "Shower Rangers" during the taping of a program called "Dude, This Sucks."

MTV apologized for the incident and promised never to air footage of the incident. That suit remains in litigation, the girls' high-profile Los Angeles attorney Gloria Allred told Reuters. "

I think I'd be pretty freaked out - but $10 million dollars? Really?
It is a ridiculous amount however..........Len J
Jun 13, 2002 4:03 PM
the only way you stop crap like this is to make sure it hurts. The way these things work is that when and if there is a big settlement (Or award) the majority of it is paid for by insurance, the insurance companies then force behavior changes based on either what they require in order to insure (or what things they won't insure (exclusions))or by dramatically increasing the cost of insurance. Either way, the behavior stops (or is reduced dramatically).

This is the only thing that some people understand.

Worse thing is that MTV is getting some great publicity for their target audience (Who I would bet loves this stuff). For all we know the whole thing might be a publicity stunt.

As for me, if it happened to me, it's hard to say what I would do. I guess it would depend on how upset my wife & I were. No one likes to be victimized, especially by something that can be emotionally tough like this. Id I really wanted to try and stop these jokers though, I would sue for alot of money.

Yeah. It makes sense as a deterrent. nmrideslikeagirl
Jun 14, 2002 7:14 AM
re: What would you do?mickey-mac
Jun 13, 2002 5:47 PM
A demand in civil complaint of this type is typically nothing more than an effort to garner publicity. Big numbers grab the headlines. Many people hear "$10,000,000 lawsuit" and think it must really be a great case. However, a person with a sprained ankle can file a $10,000,000 lawsuit, even if the realistic value of the case is $250.

Assuming the information in this article is accurate, this sounds like a pretty good case from a plaintiff's perspective. Even if the plaintiffs don't have a lot in the way of economic damages, MTV's actions seem to warrant a punitive damages award. The producers at least appear to have acted with a conscious disregard for the probability that the unwilling participants would be traumatized by something like this. In determining punitive damages, the defendant's wealth is taken into consideration. To deter this type of conduct by Viacom in the future, a punitive damages award would have to be substantial.
Sue 'em, get my money and buy a new bike!Sintesi
Jun 14, 2002 4:59 AM
I would have no problem leeching onto the MTV coffers. I would even pretend to be traumatized and act nuts. Well, maybe not. That is a sort of "moral gray area." Nah, I would do it. And if it wasn't my room they were preying on I'd find an MTV camera man trip over him in the hallway and roll down a flight of stairs and get 'em that way. I'm going to go downtown today and hang out in front of the Total Request Live studios and see what i can scrape up.

Great Idea! thanks rideslikeagirl.
Hey! Count me in!! ;-) nmrideslikeagirl
Jun 14, 2002 7:13 AM
MTV was wrongDougSloan
Jun 14, 2002 6:51 AM
That's obviously way over the line. These "candid camera" type shows the try to embarrass and shock people may be entertaining, but at someone's expense.

I think $10 million is a little high. Nonetheless, the article doesn't distinguish between actual and punitive damages. Actual is to compensate the victim for the loss. Not a whole lot here, it seems. Punitive damages are to punish and deter bad conduct, to set an example, and can take into account the wealth of the defendant, and what it would take to punish and deter them. If a company is worth a billion dollars, it might take quite a bit to get their attention.

Don't sue 'em, kill 'em...Spinchick
Jun 14, 2002 7:57 AM
see how they like being a corpse in a bad practical joke. (Kidding, of course)

Personally, I think these reality tv shows are getting WAY out of control. Not only are they stupid, but they end up being contests to see who's most "popular" (eg, Survivor, Big Brother). It's like highschool all over again. Once was enough for me.
That'd give 'em some Reality TV!! nmrideslikeagirl
Jun 14, 2002 8:37 AM