What happens when reality TV drags innocent bystanders into its plot? In the case of MTV’s popular “Jersey Shore” that technique seems to draw lawsuits.
Earlier this month, an Illinois woman sued MTV alleging she had been assaulted by two of the show’s cast members during taping of the show in Miami this past May. MTV, Viacom, Inc., the show’s producer, and Nicole Polizzi (aka “Snooki”) and Jenni Farley (aka “JWowww”), two cast members, were named in the suit which alleges:
“. . . Multiple individuals have been injured by employees of corporate defendants for this television show during instances in which cast members have gotten into physical altercations with innocent bystanders during the show’s taping. . . Employees are employed and/or instructed to cause injury to others so that the show’s content can be developed to generate profits when airing the show.”
This is not the first allegation of violence against cast members of this reality show. Just a few weeks before, another cast member allegedly struck a woman in a different Miami nightclub. She left Florida before any charges could be pursued, however. (2)
At least four other people have lawsuits pending in New Jersey Superior Court against the network and the producers of this hit show. All four lawsuits concern fights and violent episodes which were later aired. In one case, a husband and wife were involved in a fight with cast members. After the episode aired on TV, the husband was suspended from his job with the Monmouth Beach police force and fired one month later.
The most recent lawsuit claims the victim was assaulted after she talked to male cast members from the show. She is asking $75,000 for emotional and physical distress and is seeking to keep the episode from airing, (3) claiming that if it does air she “will be thrust into the public spotlight without her consent.” (1)
Perhaps reality has gone too far when a show subjects innocent bystanders to physical violence for the sake of ratings.