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A 14-year-old girl who was allegedly raped hours after appearing as an “out-of-control teen” in a taping of “The Maury Povich Show” has a valid negligence claim against the nationally syndicated TV program and its host, a Manhattan judge has ruled. Acting Supreme Court Justice Diane A. Lebedeff said Wednesday that the litigation appears to be the first New York “talk show tort.” But in denying Povich’s motion to dismiss the suit, brought by plaintiff Sheila Craver, the judge distinguished the case from a celebrated Michigan tort action arising from the murder of a guest on “The Jenny Jones Show” by another guest a few days after the program was taped. In addition to Povich, the producers and distributors of the syndicated talk show were also named as defendants. The teen guest sued over injuries she suffered in an alleged Dec. 6, 2001, sexual assault by a man who claimed to be “Maury’s limo driver.” The Povich defendants argued that as the Michigan appellate court found last year in the Jenny Jones case, they owed no duty of care to a guest on their show. The appellate court vacated a $29 million jury verdict awarded to the estate of Jones’ murdered guest, Scott Amedure. But Justice Lebedeff disagreed, finding that a major difference in this case was that Craver, a minor from Lemphill, Texas, was still subject to the Povich show’s travel arrangements at the time the show’s limousine driver allegedly lured her away from the New York City hotel where she was staying with her mother and grandmother, and then raped her in the back seat of the car. “The pleading asserts negligent supervision of a child, a claim well recognized in New York,” the judge wrote in Craver v. Povich, 114946/02. “A non-parent may be held responsible for negligent supervision of a child when the non-parent undertakes the care and supervision of a child, the child is injured, and such injuries foreseeably are related to the absence of adequate supervision,” she added. The show had allegedly promised to provide Craver with follow-up psychological counseling and a stint at a corrective “teen boot camp,” as well as transportation and hotel expenses in New York City if she appeared on the show. Craver’s mother had initially contacted the show in response to its solicitation of “out-of-control teens.” The fact that the Povich show personnel were not directly supervising Craver at the time she was allegedly lured away from the hotel did not require dismissal of the complaint, Justice Lebedeff said. Nor did questions of the possible contributory negligence of the girl’s mother, grandmother or the teen herself defeat the claim against the show, she said. The judge allowed to go forward claims of negligence and negligent hiring and retention, but dismissed claims of intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, slander and negligence per se. “[T]he role and status of each moving defendant — and, indeed, of the alleged limousine driver and rapist — within the show’s organization and structure must be clarified in the course of discovery,” the judge said, ruling it would be premature to dismiss the claims at such an early stage of the proceeding. Craver was represented by Robert A. Burstein and Alexander Stotland of Rand Rosenzweig Smith Radley Gordon & Burstein, and David M. Blum. Mark P. Gimbel and Jacqueline C. Wolff of Covington & Burling’s New York office, and Lanny A. Breuer in its Washington, D.C., office were counsel for the Povich defendants.

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