Slain Ky. Students' Parents To Sue
Apr. 13, 1999
PADUCAH, Ky. (AP) _ At one point in the film ``The Basketball Diaries,'' the main character is in a drug-induced haze, imagining he is roaming the halls of his high school, firing shotgun blasts.
The 1995 film hit too close to home for the parents of three students killed in a shooting spree at Heath High School. They filed a $130 million federal lawsuit Monday against 25 entertainment companies, including the film's producers and distributors.
The lawsuit says the companies associated with the film, along with those that created several popular, violent video games and sex-oriented Internet sites, influenced the 14-year-old gunman.
``We intend to hurt Hollywood. We intend to hurt the video game industry. We intend to hurt the sex porn sites,'' said attorney Jack Thompson.
On Dec. 1, 1997, freshman Michael Carneal opened fire with a stolen pistol on a group of students in the lobby as their prayer group was breaking up. Carneal pleaded guilty but mentally ill to murder and other charges and was sentenced to life in prison in December.
The lawsuit says the Jim Carroll book on which ``The Basketball Diaries'' was based had no shooting episode. It was included in the film ``for the sole purpose of hyping the movie and increasing its appeal to young audiences. This had the effect of harmfully influencing impressionable minors such as Michael Carneal and causing the shootings,'' the suit says.
It also says Carneal honed his shooting skills by playing computer games such as ``Doom,'' ``Quake'' and ``Redneck Rampage,'' and looked at sexually violent material on at least two Internet sites.
The defendants include Time Warner Inc., Polygram Film Entertainment Distribution Inc., Palm Pictures, Island Pictures and New Line Cinema, all of which were involved in ``The Basketball Diaries''; Meow Media Inc. and Network Authentication Systems Inc.; video game unit makers Nintendo, Sega and Sony; and software companies id software inc. and Interplay Entertainment Corp.
Calls seeking comment from most of the companies weren't returned Monday. An Interplay spokesman declined comment. There was no answer at Meow Media.