Deal reached with CNN in 'vodka mom' TV case

  • Article by: KEVIN GILES , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 4, 2013 - 8:59 PM

A financial settlement has been reached with CNN in a dispute over a Cottage Grove mother who lit herself afire, the family's attorney said Friday.

Toni Medrano died in July, just weeks after being ridiculed as "vodka mom" by flame-throwing CNN talk-show host Nancy Grace. The Grace episode aired after Medrano admitted to drinking a fifth of vodka before rolling onto and asphyxiating her 3-week-old son in November 2011.

"I can tell you the case was settled in principle two weeks ago," said personal injury attorney Michael Padden of Lake Elmo. A lawsuit was never formally served but "we resolved the case just by negotiation," he said.

Settlement terms are confidential by agreement with CNN, he said. CNN owns HLNtv, which produces the Grace show. Attempts Friday to reach anyone at CNN to comment on the settlement were unsuccessful.

Medrano, 29, was charged in Washington County District Court in June 2012 with two counts of manslaughter in the death of Adrian Alexander Medrano. The boy was born Nov. 1, 2011, and died on Nov. 22.

About a week after Medrano was charged, Grace held up a fifth of vodka on her television show and said she was going to see how many glasses she could get out of the bottle. She poured at least nine as the words "vodka mom" appeared on the screen.

Grace then interviewed a reporter from her show and two officials unfamiliar with the case as she theorized that Medrano had been sleeping on her child for hours.

"There was a long period of time that baby's life could have been saved," she said on the show.

Medrano was shaking and despondent when she watched the show and said life wasn't worth living, her sister said last summer.

She doused herself with a flammable liquid on July 2 and lit herself on fire in her mother's back yard in St. Paul Park. She died a few days later.

Grace is known for her guilty-until-proven-otherwise approach to crime, concentrating on cases involving women and children.

Medrano's family was pleased with the settlement and relieved it was over, Padden said.

Kevin Giles • 651-925-5037 Twitter: @stribgiles

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