Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Weirum v. RKO General, Inc. case brief

Weirum v. RKO General, Inc. case brief summary
539 P.2d 36 (1975)

Defendant radio station appealed from the order of the Superior Court of Ventura County (California), which entered judgment in favor of plaintiffs, decedent's wife and children, in their action for wrongful death, and denied defendant's motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict.

Plaintiffs, decedent's wife and children, brought an action for wrongful death against defendant radio station. Decedent's car was negligently forced off the highway by one of two minors who were attempting to follow defendant disc jockey's automobile as part of a contest run by defendant.

The trial court entered judgment in favor of plaintiffs.


  • On appeal, the court affirmed. 
  • The court held that it was foreseeable that defendant's youthful listeners would race to arrive first at a location to claim a prize, and in their haste disregard highway safety.
  • The harm to decedent, although caused by third parties, was stimulated by defendant's broadcast. 
  • The principle that one is not obligated to act as a good samaritan did not apply because plaintiffs' complaint was grounded upon an affirmative act of defendant which created an undue risk of harm. 
  • The court held that the trial court's recall of the jury for further instructions on the third day of deliberations as to the issue of duty of care was not prejudicial because its prefatory remarks minimized any tendency of the jury to be unduly impressed by the circumstances under which the instruction was given.
The court affirmed the trial court's judgment in favor of plaintiffs, decedent's wife and children, because the reckless conduct by defendant radio station's youthful listeners in disregarding highway safety was foreseeable and constituted the hazard to which decedent was exposed.

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