The suit blames Jerry Springer and his show for the death of woman killed by her ex-husband after the pair appeared on TV.
July 11, 2002
TAMPA -- Talk show host Jerry Springer was sued Wednesday by the son of a former guest who was killed by her ex-husband hours after the airing of a show on which the former couple appeared.
The suit, filed by Jeffrey Campbell, of Kalamazoo, Mich., claims the Jerry Springer Show about love triangles ambushed Nancy Campbell, "creating a mood that led to murder."
Ralf Panitz, 42, was convicted of second-degree murder and received a life sentence in May for the July 24, 2000 fatal beating. The show was taped in May 2000.
The suit was filed in Sarasota County by Miami attorney Ellis Rubin. In addition to Springer, who owns a home in Sarasota, the suit names his show, taped in Chicago, and Los Angeles-based Studios USA Television Distribution, LLC.
The Jerry Springer Show encouraged Panitz, who appeared on the show with his new wife, to lie to Campbell in order to get her to appear on the episode, titled "Secret Mistresses Confronted," the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit claims the show manipulated the situation to ensure the humiliation of Campbell, who thought she was on the show to reconcile with Panitz.
Instead, she learned that her ex-husband had secretly married Eleanor Panitz in March 2000. The suit says the show forced Ralf Panitz to spend a night with Campbell in the same hotel room so there would be a sexual interlude between them to discuss on the show the next day.
A spokeswoman for Springer's show said Wednesday neither the show nor its producers were responsible for the death.
"The murder of Ms. Campbell-Panitz transpired nearly three months after the taping of the episode," Linda Shafran said. "Many events occurred that were totally unrelated to the show."
Panitz and Campbell divorced in 1999 but still lived together off and on, even after he remarried. The trio spent months filing a flurry of domestic violence allegations against one other as Ralf Panitz bounced between the two women.
"The Springer defendants knew or should have known that putting these three documented violence-prone guests together on the show by deception and fraud would lead to further violence or worse," the suit says.
Prosecutors said Panitz, upset about having to move his belongings out of Campbell's home, choked and beat her to death after watching the Jerry Springer episode on TV at a bar, where he was drinking heavily.