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Friday, December 21, 2007

Smile! You're Suing Candid Camera!

You won't see anything like this post-9/11:
    "Okay, where's the candid camera?" Philip Zelnick demanded on June 15, 2001, when an airport security official in Bullhead City, Ariz., instructed him to climb atop an authentic-looking, but phony, X-ray scanner machine.

    It seemed fishy, but Zelnick, 35, complied with the request of the "security official" -- actually show host Peter Funt. By the time the stunt was done, however, Zelnick appeared in no mood to "smile!", as the show's guests are often entreated to do. Instead, he sued.

    In a suit filed against Funt, "Candid Camera," the PAX television network, the airport and the Mojave Country Airport Authority, Zelnick claimed he incurred bruises and bleeding after becoming stuck in the faux scanner. Though identical in appearance to scanners reserved for carry-on luggage, the fake scanner did not emit real rays.
That was over six years ago, but it's being shown now on Court TV. Here's how the case turned out:
    The Los Angeles jury, comprised of five men and seven women, found "Candid Camera" and Peter Funt liable for negligence, false imprisonment and intentional misrepresentation, but cleared them of claims of battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

    The jury awarded Zenlick a total of $300,000 in punitive damages, with Peter Funt and the show ordered to pay $150,000 each.

    Unhappy with the verdict, Peter Funt and "Candid Camera" plan to seek a new trial. In a statement on, Funt is quoted as saying, "We expressed our regret over Mr. Zelnick's injury within moments of the incident and offered compensation. Clearly the jury was not impressed with claims relating to his injury... I firmly believe that this award will be dramatically reduced on appeal."

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