Skip to main content
Home World U.S. Weather Business Sports Analysis Politics Law Tech Science Health Entertainment Offbeat Travel Education Specials Autos I-Reports
Law Center

Family of missing boy's mother sues CNN, Nancy Grace

By Ashley Broughton
Adjust font size:
Decrease fontDecrease font
Enlarge fontEnlarge font

TAVARES, Florida (CNN) -- Relatives of a missing boy's mother who committed suicide after taping an interview for Headline News' "Nancy Grace" show sued CNN and Grace on Tuesday, claiming the former prosecutor's questioning of the woman contributed to her death.

The wrongful-death suit was filed in Lake County, Florida by Bethann and Jerry Eubank, the parents of Melinda Duckett and the representatives of her estate. It seeks unspecified damages and funeral costs.

Duckett committed suicide September 8 after taping a telephone interview for Grace's show. The suit claims that Duckett agreed to appear on the show after being promised her appearance might help find her 2-year-old son, Trenton Duckett.

Those promises were made by Headline News employees, the suit said, "knowing that they intended to surprise Melinda Duckett with accusations, questions and verbal assaults clearly intending to intimate that she murdered her child."

"We've alleged that Nancy Grace and her producers deliberately misrepresented the reasons for wanting Melinda on the show," Eubank family attorney Jay Paul Deratany said in a written statement.

"Within minutes of Melinda's phone interview, it became quite obvious that Nancy's questions weren't about finding Trenton at all, but rather about impliedly accusing Melinda of murdering her beloved son."

Headline News, CNN's sister network, issued a statement saying that while it does not comment on pending litigation, "We stand by Nancy Grace and fully support her, as we have from the beginning of this case."

Grace previously said in an interview with MSNBC that allegations she contributed to Duckett's death "are hateful, they are spiteful and they are also ridiculous."

On her show in September, Grace asked Duckett where she was on the day Trenton went missing. Duckett said she did not want those details to be made public.

"Why aren't you telling us and giving us a clear picture of where you were before your son was kidnapped?" Grace asked. Later, she told Duckett she was not divulging her whereabouts "for a reason."

"The spitfire questioning, fist-pounding and cross-examination tactics, all in hopes of obtaining a public confession, were despicable," said Eubank attorney Kara Skorupa.

Just hours before the interview was supposed to air, Duckett shot herself in a closet of her grandparents' home, the attorneys said.

"Even after learning of Melinda's death, CNN and the show's producers made the decision to air the interview between Melinda and Nancy Grace," Deratany said. "It was with complete disregard for the family and without their consent or authorization, which is morally repugnant."

"Three or four hours after Mindy had died, I was still in a state of shock," Jerry Eubank told CNN affiliates WESH and WPTV. "I'm watching this woman banging the table and screaming about 'Why aren't you telling us this, or that.' She was judge, jury and executioner."

The suit says Grace's actions have caused the Eubank family "severe emotional distress for which they have sought psychological counseling and continue to suffer from emotional and debilitating distress."

Melinda Duckett left behind a note that appeared to blame the public for her actions. "I do not bleed my emotions to the public and throughout this situation you did not understand that," the note said in part. It also said that Duckett loved Trenton "dearly, and he is all I was breathing for. He was and always will be my essence and as he grows, I want him to know that."

Based on those comments, Florida authorities said last week they believe Trenton may still be alive.

The suit filed Tuesday also names Joshua Duckett, Trenton's father, as a defendant and asks for an accounting of money in a fund he set up, with Grace's assistance.

"We are certainly not accusing Joshua Duckett ... of anything inappropriate at this point," Deratany said in a written statement. "But there has been a lot of money going into the account to help find Trenton, and the reward being offered seems small in comparison. Melinda's family simply wants to ensure that the money being donated by concerned citizens is being used solely for the purpose of finding Trenton."

Follow Related Topics

Search TopicE-mail Alerts



Find a local attorney at Martindale-Hubbell's®
Enter City:

or: Search by Lawyer's Name

Law Firm Marketing: Expert Help for Attorneys from
International Edition
CNN TV CNN International Headline News Transcripts Advertise with Us About Us Contact Us
© 2007 Cable News Network.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
SERVICES » E-mails RSSRSS Feed PodcastsRadio News Icon CNNtoGo CNN Pipeline
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more