The son of a Jerry Springer Show guest–killed by her ex-husband only hours after the airing of the syndicated TV talk show episode that she was in–filed a lawsuit against Springer on Wednesday in Sarasota County court in Florida.
Jeffrey Campbell alleged that The Jerry Springer Show episode on which his mother, Nancy Campbell-Panitz, appeared created a “mood that led to murder,” The Associated Press reports.
Campbell-Panitz was beaten to death on July 24, 2000, by her ex-husband Ralf Panitz after an episode in which he revealed he had secretly remarried. He was convicted of second-degree murder in May and received a life sentence.
The episode in question was taped in May 2000. According to the suit, the show encouraged Ralf Panitz to lie to Campbell-Panitz, making her believe she was appearing on the show, titled “Secret Mistresses Confronted,” to reconcile with him.
But rather than kiss and make up, Campbell-Panitz learned that her ex-husband, who was still living with her, had married someone else–Eleanor Panitz–in March 2000. After being taunted and ridiculed by Eleanor Panitz and audience members, Campbell-Panitz ran off the stage.
The episode aired three months later and, according to prosecutors, Ralf Panitz saw it while drinking heavily in a bar. Upset about having to move his belongings out of Campbell-Panitz’s home, he choked and beat her to death.
Linda Shafran, a spokeswoman for Springer, told the AP that neither the show nor its producers were responsible for the death.
“Many events occurred that were totally unrelated to the show, making it clear that neither the show, Jerry Springer or the producers were responsible in any way for this tragedy, even if we are an easy and convenient target,” she said.
The suit also names The Jerry Springer Show and its distributor, Universal Studios Television.