Matt Carter, a part-time employee of Entercom’s KDND Sacramento, is not going to get his legal expenses reimbursed in the latest legal twist to the 2007 death of a listener in the now-infamous “Hold Your Wee for a Wii” contest.
The California 3rd District Court of Appeal says Carter “did not have an absolute right to chose his own attorney to represent him at the expense of his employer” or the radio station’s insurance company.
“Nor did the fact that he faced potential liability for punitive damages and (for a time) potential criminal charges give him the right to insist that his employer or its insurer pay for the attorney he chose,” the appellate court said.
Carter was among those involved in the ill-fated promotion that saw a Rancho Cordova, CA woman die. Jennifer Strange, then 28 and a mother of three, was taking part in the promotion which involved drinking as much water as possible in a three-hour period without going to the bathroom. She drank about two gallons of water and died as a result of apparent “water intoxication” – a dilution of body fluids leading to fatal changes in electrolyte levels.
Carter’s job that morning was to pass out bottles of water to the contestants. Four days after the death, he and others were fired, but Entercom promised to provide legal counsel. However, Carter hired his own lawyer. Ultimately, that attorney submitted a bill for $807,421.22 in fees and costs. The insurance company balked, noting that it had offered to provide counsel.
A Sacramento County Superior Court jury awarded the woman’s husband and other plaintiffs a total of $16.57 million, largely in punitive damages, reported The Central Valley Business Times.