Casey Kasem’s children from the late radio personality’s first marriage won a round in court when a judge ruled their lawyers can depose two Washington state physicians as part of their wrongful death lawsuit against their stepmother and stepsister, court papers obtained Monday show.
Santa Monica Superior Court Judge Nancy Newman ruled Wednesday that a related pending action that normally would put a temporary halt to discovery does not involve the plaintiffs. She also said the depositions of the doctors, Donald Sharman and Eric Kiesel, have been difficult for the plaintiffs’ attorneys to schedule and that getting them done is vital for their trial preparation and could be valuable in any mediation opportunities.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed in November 2015 are Kerri, Julie and Michael Kasem and their uncle, Mouner. They fought their stepmother, Jean Kasem, over visitation with their father before he died.
The suit alleges Jean and daughter Liberty Kasem are liable for wrongful death, elder abuse and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Liberty Kasem, 28, is the only child born to Casey and Jean Kasem, who was married to the famed deejay from 1980 until his June 2014 death at age 82 in Washington state from a form of dementia and a severe bedsore.
Kerri Kasem was given temporary conservatorship powers over her father and had control of his medical care. The temporary conservatorship expired upon his death, but she was later appointed special administrator of her father’s estate.
In their court papers, the plaintiffs cited Jean Kasem’s decision to move her husband from a medical facility in Santa Monica to a friend’s home in Washington state.
“Jean chartered a plane to avoid detection and flew Casey to … Washington,” the suit states. “There, she and Liberty moved Casey in with a childhood friend …. whom Casey had never met.”
The traveling took its toll, causing him to suffer a bedsore a month before he died “after a seven-day sojourn in Jean and Liberty’s custody,” the suit alleges.
After her husband’s death, Jean Kasem transported his body to Norway, where he was buried in an unmarked grave despite his wishes to be laid to rest at a cemetery in Los Angeles, the lawsuit states.
The physician deponents both live in Washington. Sharman treated Kasem before his daughter Kerri was named his conservator and got her father to a hospital. Kiesel is a former Pierce County medical examiner who performed the autopsy on Kasem in 2014 and prepared a report three years later.
Lawyers for Jean and Liberty Kasem maintained all discovery should be halted pending the outcome of a motion by Casey Kasem’s former court-appointed lawyer, Samuel Ingham III, who wants the judge to dismiss the part of the countersuit they filed against him as well as the plaintiffs.
The countersuit alleges the Kasem children conducted a scheme to get access to their father and stepmother’s estate, but “contains no specific allegations pertaining to Mr. Ingham,” according to the plaintiffs’ attorneys’ court papers.
Ingham’s lawyers contend that Jean and Liberty Kasem are trying to impose liability on their client even though he was engaged in the constitutionally protected activity of representing a client during the conservatorship litigation. A hearing on Ingham’s dismissal motion is scheduled for Jan. 8.
In her ruling, Newman noted that Ingham has no objections to the Sharman and Kiesel depositions going forward.
Lawyers for Jean and Liberty Kasem argued in their court papers that any scheduled problems the plaintiffs have had in deposing the doctors can be traced to their decision to file the case in Los Angeles County instead of Washington state.
In May 2015, the District Attorney’s Office declined to file criminal charges against Jean Kasem regarding her husband’s death.
Casey Kasem began his “American Top 40” radio show in July 1970, signing off each time with the message, “And don’t forget: Keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars.”
Kerri, Julie and Michael Kasem were born during their father’s 1972-79 marriage to Linda Myers.