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Rice v. Paladin Enterprises, Inc.

138 F.3d 233 (1997)

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Rice v. Paladin Enterprises, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

138 F.3d 233 (1997)

Facts

Paladin Enterprises, Inc. (Paladin) (defendant) published the book Hit Man: A Technical Manual for Independent Contractors (the Manual). The Manual advertised itself as a book of instructions for the successful commission of murder for hire. The catalog advertisement for the Manual was written to entice criminals to purchase it and follow its instructions. A copy of the Manual was found in James Perry’s home after he murdered Mildred Horne, her disabled son, Trevor, and Trevor’s nurse in Rockville, Maryland. Perry had been hired to commit the murders by Mildred’s ex-husband, Lawrence Horne, so that Lawrence would inherit a large settlement left to his son. Representatives and relatives of the victims (collectively, the victims’ relatives) (plaintiffs) filed a wrongful-death action against Paladin in federal court, arguing that Paladin aided and abetted Perry in committing the murders by publishing the Manual. Paladin stipulated that Perry followed the Manual’s instructions to commit the murders, that Paladin not only knew but intended that the Manual would be used by criminals to actually commit murder, that the marketing strategy for the Manual was designed to appeal to those seeking to commit murder, and that the Manual did assist Perry in killing the victims. Paladin filed a motion for summary judgment, which the district court granted. The victims’ relatives appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Luttig, J.)

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