Thursday, October 17, 2002

'Jackass' stunt leads to lawsuit



By Tom O'Neill
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The Jackass kids are finally headed to court.

A lawsuit against the driver in the videotaped Jackass car stunt, dormant for a year-and-a-half because he couldn't be located, inched forward this week after he was found in Covington.

The suit was filed in Kenton Circuit Court in May 2001 on behalf of an Independence teen who suffered a broken right leg and left ankle when he tried to jump over a car driven by the defendant a month earlier.

It remains unclear if the boys were inspired by MTV's controversial show Jackass, in which people send in videotapes of their dangerous stunts. But early in the investigation, that's what police were told.

The Enquirer is not naming the boys because the incident occurred when they were minors and the criminal case remained in juvenile court.

The injured teen has healed after incurring about $25,000 in medical bills, his attorney, Eric Deters, said Wednesday.

Mr. Deters said he requested the driver's auto insurance company pay half the medical bills, on the premise that both boys were willing participants in the stunt and share responsibility for its outcome.

"This is a classic example of two people equally at fault," Mr. Deters said. "We wanted them to pay half. They refused. This isn't about someone (his client) not taking responsibility."

Steve Wolnitzek, attorney for the driver, disputes the amount in medical expenses and says the stunt was the injured boy's idea.

"He had done numerous stunts in the past," Mr. Wolnitzek said Wednesday, "and now that he gets hurt, it's someone else's fault."

He said medical records he's received show expenses of $13,764, of which about $11,000 was paid by the driver's insurance company under Kentucky's no-fault system.

The suit alleges, among other things, that the driver "failed to operate his vehicle in a safe manner" and in a way "consistent with its intended use."

The injured boy was supposed to jump over the car as it approached him on Sidney Drive in Independence on April 23, 2001.

Instead, his ankle struck the front fender and he went airborne, crashing on the hood and windshield.

E-mail toneill@enquirer.com



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