United States court deflects claim over woman's death in Britney Spears hoax

An appeals court has dismissed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit brought by the husband of a woman who died during a Britney Spears hoax concocted by a local radio station. "The decision that was rendered has no real relationship to the facts," the man's attorney Peter H. Bouman, told The Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin for its Friday edition. He said he would likely challenge the decision.

Paul Santodonato's 37-year-old wife, Susan, died in June 2000 after falling and hitting her head outside WMRV-FM while part of a crowd of about 100 people who rushed after a limousine fans believed had pop star Britney Spears inside. The appearance, however, was a hoax by the radio station, who hired a Spears impersonator.

A pathologist ruled the mother of three died after her heart went out of rhythm as a result of the blow to her head. Santodonato's 10-year-old daughter was with her when she fell.

Paul Santodonato filed a claim alleging fraud and negligence against Clear Channel Broadcasting Inc., the radio station's owner, in March 2002.

A state Supreme Court justice in 2004 ruled Santodonato wouldn't be allowed to submit arguments alleging fraud or negligent crowd control to a potential jury. Clear Channel asked that the entire complaint be thrown out. Both sides appealed to an appellate court, which issued its unanimous decision to dismiss the complaint on Thursday, the newspaper said.

The appellate court ruled Santodonato and his attorneys failed to prove that Susan Santodonato was unable to find safe refuge from the crowd. The judges said testimony indicated that no one was in her immediate vicinity in the moments before her fall.

The judges also said Paul Santodonato had failed to offer proof concerning the cause of his wife's fall, and couldn't prove the radio station's misrepresentations caused the events that led to Santodonato's death, reports the AP.


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