Who’s to Blame for Prank Gone Wrong?

Carter 2011 posts a fascinating legal analysis of the 2Day FM show and how liable the shock jocks and their bosses might be if it is shown that Jacintha Saldanha committed suicide because of the professional harm she suffered from their prank.

…hearing a useful idiot on radio arguing that we could all empathize with the Australian radio presenters who callously chose to put Jacintha Saldanha at risk by making a prank call to the King Edward VIIth hospital. According to their employers, they could not reasonably have foreseen what happened to Jacintha Saldanha. This idiocy takes me into what’s known, by some lawyers, as the eggshell skull argument, or, or, more prosaically, as the principle that you must take your victim as you find them. We do not know why Jacintha Saldanha died, or what was going through her head, but it seems likely that she was deeply troubled by the way in which she was held up to ridicule and humiliation for the entertainment of others. Applying empathy, or experiencing it, I can imagine her being lonely, scared and distressed, and I think that is reasonably foreseeable.

Read the rest here. I think Carter is a lawyer or very well-informed about legal issues.

The lawyered-up corporation, Southern Cross, has suddenly recalled that they tried to contact the 2 nurses they scammed, taped and broadcast, “at least 5 times” but apparently failed to reach them. I don’t see how this makes anything better. It sounds like they knew it was illegal to broadcast without permission, made a token effort to obtain it, and then went ahead anyway. If Jacintha Saldanha had been able to halt this unauthorized broadcast, would she have sought help and found protection from damaging publicity she didn’t deserve?

Today, station execs are simultaneously claiming they did nothing wrong and displaying the shock jock’s distress in a play for sympathy. Mel Grieg and Michael Christian weeping on air. They’ll be replaced and station management will be back to business as usual as soon as the scandal dies down.

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