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article image$16 Million for Family After Water Drinking Contest Death

By Chris Dade     Oct 31, 2009 in Entertainment
The family of a woman from California who died in 2007 after taking part in a water drinking contest organized by her local radio station has been awarded $16 million in damages.
Jennifer Strange, a 28-year-old mother of three from Rancho Cordova, Sacramento County, California was attempting to win a Nintendo Wii video game system for her children in a promotional contest on the radio station KDND-FM (107.9) "The End" that was called "Hold Your Wee for Wii".
Mrs Strange was to eventually die at home of acute water intoxication after drinking what KCRA reports to have been over a dozen bottles of water in the space of just three hours.
According to the Los Angeles Times Mrs Strange joked as she took part in the contest on the program "Morning Rave" that she was starting to look pregnant again due to the water that she had consumed.
However, as she became one of just two contestants left competing for the prize of the video game system, there were 20 contestants at the beginning, Mrs Strange also complained of a splitting headache and feelings of wobbliness.
After being beaten to the prize by Lucy Davidson, Mrs Strange was sick in the station's bathroom, as it seems was Ms Davidson. She then called her employer to say that she was unwell and would not be reporting for work. Her body was discovered at her home later that day by her mother.
And it appears that the radio station was not unaware of the risks involved in holding such a contest, an on-air host even mentioning a student who died in 2005 from acute water intoxication whilst taking part in a hazing ritual.
The hazing incident was raised in the Sacramento County Superior Court by Roger Drywer, the attorney acting for Billy Strange, the husband of the deceased woman, and the children who survived her. CBS13 notes that Mrs Strange's children, aged three and seven, had been some of the last witnesses to take the stand as the case drew to an end on Thursday after two weeks of testimony.
Mr Drywer had asked for compensation of $34 million for Mrs Strange's family and for KDND's owners Entercom Sacramento LLC, and in turn its owners, Entercom Communications Corp. of Boston, to be found negligent in her death. The radio station denied negligence, although the report by CBS13 suggests that it may have accepted that some form of compensation was due, albeit not the amount that was being requested or the amount that was awarded.
It was a split verdict by the jury sitting in the case but the amount of compensation finally awarded was $16,577,118. In addition Entercom Sacramento LLC, which is not planning to appeal the verdict of the jury and will pay the compensation in full, was found to be negligent in the death of Jennifer Strange. Its parent company was cleared of any negligence, with Mrs Strange also cleared of any negligence in her own death.
Billy Strange spoke of his gratitude and appreciation for the manner in which the jury had come to its decision and KCRA confirms that he and Mrs Strange's mother actually embraced each of the jurors as they left their box.
Speaking on behalf of Entercom, Charles Sipkins said:Jennifer Strange’s death was a tragedy. Our hearts go out to all of her loved ones, including, in particular, her husband and children. While legal restrictions preclude us from commenting further on the verdict, we respect the jury’s decision and hope that it will assist the Strange family in coping with its loss
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