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Casey Kasem Lawsuit Settlement

6 years ago I wrote about the fight over Casey Kasem. (Blog post 11-25-13).  Some may not be old enough to remember Kasem who was an actor and radio personality.  He is probably best known as the host of American Top 40, a nationally syndicated radio program in the 1970’s and 80’s which counted down the top pop songs every week.

Kasem died in June 2014 but not before his children from his first marriage fought with his second wife over their right to see their father and to make decisions regarding his medical care.  Kasem had advanced Parkinson’s Disease and was reported to be bedridden. 

A legal battle ensued in which the children filed for conservatorship in a California court.  His wife then removed him from a California nursing home to one in Washington state and that is where he died.  6 months after his death she buried him in Norway.  The children then filed a wrongful death lawsuit against his wife and she filed a countersuit against them.

It is now nearly 6 years after his death and both sides finally agreed to an undisclosed settlement in which they both dismissed their claims.  The case highlights several issues which I have previously written about.  One is the challenges presented by second marriages.  It appears that Kasem’s children from his first marriage had a contentious relationship with their stepmother to say the least.  While it was not entirely clear whether he had signed a health care directive setting out his wishes, both sides alleged bad motives by the other side.

The children were also upset about their stepmother’s decision to move Kasem out of state without telling them where and then after his death moving his remains to Norway.  Although they were unhappy about it, they couldn’t prevent it, presumably because she had the right under the law to make those decisions.  State laws establish who has the right to make funeral and burial decisions.

Going thru the legal system in these situations, while a last resort, is likely to be costly and unlikely to give the parties a measure of satisfaction.  In a statement by Kasem’s daughter, Keri, she expressed disappointment that she was forced by her family and lawyers to go along with the settlement. While we don’t know enough about the facts in the Kasem case to determine if or how Casey Kasem could have prevented his family from fighting so publicly and painfully, the lesson to be learned is that everyone should take the opportunity we all have to put a plan in place and to discuss with family our wishes.