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The Strange Case of Jennifer Strange

Posted by Jane Akre
Thursday, October 08, 2009 1:46 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Water Intoxication, Hyponatremia, Entercom Communications, Media Consolidation

The wrongful death case of Jennifer Strange has just wrapped up in Sacramento.
Jennifer Strange and family

Radio Contest Led To Death


IMAGE SOURCE: Jennifer Strange and family/ author: Odd Time Signatures Web site

The defense has wrapped up its case in a Sacramento, California courtroom in the unusual case of Jennifer Strange.

After drinking more than 1.5 gallons of water, the 28-year-old mother from Sacramento, thought she’d be first in line to win a new Wii video game from KDND of Sacramento.

Known as, “The End” 107.9, the station was hosting a “Hold Your Wee for a Wii” contest, asking people to drink as much water as they could to win the prize.

By the time she left the station she might as well have been drunk, a doctor testified in her trial earlier this week.

Strange suffered hyponatremia, or acute water intoxication. Immediate medical care might have saved with with an IV sodium drip to counteract the water, the doctor testified.

Instead, Strange went home and collapsed. She was found dead about six hours later.

The one-day defense featured four witnesses, reports the Sacramento Bee. The defense questioned the pathologist who conducted the autopsy on Strange’s body. She testified she had never seen a case of acute water intoxication. The defense says it rarely occurs.

Earlier on Tuesday, plaintiffs’ attorney, Roger Dryer, concluded his case by calling Ryland Strange, 6 and his sister, Jorie, 3, to the stand. They talked about playing and school and not about their late mother.

Testifying for the plaintiffs in the wrongful-death trial in Sacramento Superior Court, Dr. George Alan Kaysen, a kidney expert told jurors that drinking too much water disrupts the body’s salt balance, causing cells and ultimately the brain to swell. Seizures and respiratory distress result.

Both sides are in agreement that Strange died of hyponatremia.

The wrongful-death trial seeks damages from Philadelphia-based Entercom Communications Corporation and its subsidiary that owns the Sacramento station, as well as the station’s vice president.

During the trial, jurors heard what happened during the contest.

Strange had been drinking water for nearly three hours without urinating during the January 12, 2007 contest. She told the radio personalities that her head hurt. The DJ’s laughed about her condition even saying her distended abdomen made her look pregnant.

Attorneys for the radio station owner, Entercom, have argued her death was not foreseeable.

Strange didn’t even win the contest, she came in second and won two tickets to a Justin Timberlake concert.

Both sides will argue the radio owners liability and damages to the jury next Tuesday. A Plaintiffs’ economic expert estimates her future economic loss to the family as a result of her death around $1.8 million.

Journalist, Sue Wilson is covering the trial and is blogging about it. She plans to be filing a license challenge to KDND, questioning whether it has the moral character to own a license.

The broadcast group owns six stations in the Sacramento market and is a prime example of media consolidation and the trend toward larger corporate ownership of publicly-held airwaves, which eliminate smaller local owners and voices of diversity.

Entercom on its Web site announces a new Corporate Sustainability Initiative, providing $1 million to environmental organizations. #

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