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The Pro Bono Partnership of Atlanta has hired an employment lawyer, Lori Shapiro



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Viacom Spent Millions After T.I. Realty Show Airs Dead Man’s Body


From the annals of reality show nightmares comes the tale of how Viacom had to spend millions of dollars after the MTV reality series, T.I’s Road to Redemption, showed a dead man’s body during its premiere episode, titled “You Are Responsible for Your Own Actions.” Viacom doesn’t believe it’s financially responsible for what happened and has taken the AXIS Insurance Company to court to get the firm to reimburse its legal costs and reach a settlement. The complaint, obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, provides some detail about what happened, while a2011 story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution fills in the background. The series focused on hip-hop star T.I. (Clifford Joseph Harris Jr.) as he awaited sentencing on weapons possession and attempted to counsel youth against a life of crime. The episode in question took T.I. to a funeral home, where he saw the body of Joseph Williams, whom the mortician said was a “hustler” whose parents don’t know how he died. Williams’ family sued. The claims were invasion of privacy, negligent misrepresentations about the decedent, violation of likeness (even though Williams’ face was reportedly shown out of focus) and, perhaps most worthy of a morbid bar exam question, interference with the family’s contract with the funeral home. (The funeral home reportedly paid to have the body cremated.) The story would have ended there if it wasn’t for Viacom’s new lawsuit against AXIS Insurance, which reveals that after a mediation on June 29, Viacom came into an opportunity to settle the case “for an amount that, even after deducting from the $5 million policy limit the extensive defense costs incurred during more than three years of litigation, was within the $5 million policy limit of the Insurance Policy.” AXIS only believes it’s on the hook for up to $3 million, according to the media company’s complaint. At issue is a single word — “occurrence.” Although the insurance policy had a total limit of $5 million, it also had a limitation of $3 million for “Each Loss,” which is defined in the policy as “all Damages and Claim Expense arising out of an Occurrence.” AXIS appears to be arguing that the broadcast of the dead man’s body is a single occurrence while Viacom states “the Decedent’s Family alleged numerous separate acts, and thus numerous ‘Occurrences,’ that caused distinct losses.” So now Viacom wants somewhere between $3 million to $5 million (and we surmise the lawsuit implies the figure is near the higher end) lest it “be forced to pay from [its] own pockets the costs of defense and settlement.” In sum, millions spent after showing a dead man’s body, but hey, Viacom still has a chance for redemption, and then some. Viacom is demanding its insurer pay punitive damages too. This article was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.


Woman killed in three-vehicle crash in Jessup


JESSUP, Md. – A 39-year-old Baltimore woman was killed Wednesday following a three-vehicle accident in Jessup, Howard County police said. Police said before 6:40 a.m., the driver of a 2010 Freightliner Box Truck was traveling northbound on US Rt. 1 just south of Kit Kat Road when he struck the rear of a 2000 Volkswagen Jetta that was stopped in preparing to turn left into the US 1 Center Shopping Center. The Volkswagen, driven by Rafaella Griffin, of the 1000 block of Cooks Lane, was then pushed into a 2006 Chrysler 300 that was also stopped in traffic in front of it. Griffin was transported to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where she died Wednesday evening. Police said the truck driver has been identified as William Franklin Russell III, 56, of the 7500 blk. of Merrymaker Way in Elkridge. Russell was transporting equipment for the Synergy Health Company located in Elkridge, MD. The driver of the Chrysler has been identified Michael Jerome Thompson, 40, of the 6000 block of Edward Drive in Clinton. Police are trying to determine why Griffin and Thompson were attempting to make a left turn into the shopping center using the through lane of northbound Route 1 instead of the designated left turn lane that services the shopping center. I Police said they do not believe icy conditions on the road were the primary cause of the collision as the roadway had no ice on it. Route 1 was closed to through traffic in the area for close to three hours following the accident. News article from –


T.I., MTV, Funeral Home Sued for Filming Dead Body on Reality Show


*The family of a dead man whose body was shown in T.I.’s MTV reality series “T.I.’s Road to Redemption” have sued the rapper, claiming that the airing of the corpse on television was disrespectful and done without their consent. The suit, filed by the family of Joseph Williams, contends that his father, Joseph Williams Sr., and other relatives suffered mental distress after footage of his body was shown in a February 2009 episode of the MTV series, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The premise of the reality show was to scare youths into leading crime-free lives. In the first episode, entitled “You Are Responsible For Your Own Actions,” Harris shows a young man a corpse at Haugabrooks. A mortician says the man was a “hustler” and says the man’s parents don’t know how he really died. The face of the dead man is out of focus in the video that was available online at MTV’s website Friday. The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Fulton County State Court, claims a funeral home employee falsely stated that the parents didn’t know what happened to their son.

The Haugabrooks Funeral Home on Auburn Avenue near downtown Atlanta is listed among the defendants. The company was paid to cremate the body, the suit says. T.I., whose real name is Clifford J. Harris Jr., is currently in a federal prison in Arkansas on weapons convictions, with a scheduled release date in September. The lawsuit contends that Harris, the funeral home, MTV and the others involved in the making of the video “carelessly mishandled” the body “for financial gain and publicity.” It seeks unspecified damages for mental pain and suffering and emotional distress. Read more at –