Attorneys for the families of two youths who attempted suicide after listening to an album by the British rock band Judas Priest say they will challenge a judge’s ruling that absolved the group of responsibility.
Attorney Vivian Lynch said she and co-counsel Ken McKenna would file post-trial motions by Tuesday to challenge the court’s decision. “These usually aren’t granted and, if not, I will appeal” to the Nevada Supreme Court, said Lynch, who represented one of the families.
Lynch said she believes Washoe District Judge Jerry Carr Whitehead, who heard the case without a jury, put too much of a burden of proof on the plaintiffs and too little on lawyers for the band and CBS Records in his decision last week.
The families of Raymond Belknap and James Vance claimed that subliminal messages on the 1978 album “Stained Class” drove the youths to shoot themselves with shotguns two days before Christmas, 1985. Belknap, 18, died immediately and Vance, then 20, severely injured himself and died three years later.
Whitehead wrote that while subliminal messages did exist on the album, they were not intentional but “a chance combination of sounds,” and did not prompt the suicide pact.
Lynch, who represented Vance’s family, said the suit was a product liability case and the judge should not have placed a legal burden on the plaintiffs to prove that the hidden words were meant to encourage suicide.