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Attorney: Settlement reached for family of Cottage Grove woman scorned by Nancy Grace

The family of a Cottage Grove woman who lit herself on fire after she was scorned on national cable TV is set to receive a financial settlement.

An attorney for the family of Toni A. Medrano said Friday a settlement was reached with CNN, the HLN network and the Nancy Grace show. Grace had called Medrano "Vodka Mom" and castigated her during a segment about the woman's arrest in connection with her infant son's death. Days later in July 2012, Medrano lit herself on fire outside her mother's St. Paul Park home and died of the injuries.

The media attention given Medrano stemmed from the suffocation of her infant boy. Authorities said the 3-week-old baby died the night of Nov. 21, 2011, after Medrano had consumed nearly an entire bottle of vodka and fell asleep on a couch with the newborn at their Cottage Grove home. She awoke 10 hours later and the baby was unresponsive.

In June 2012, Medrano was charged with two counts of second-degree manslaughter in Washington County District Court. After the charges were filed, Medrano's case was profiled on Grace's criminal justice talk show. During the segment, Grace called Medrano "Vodka Mom" and said she should have been charged with murder.

Citing the sealed settlement, Medrano family attorney Michael Padden declined to specify the amount of the financial agreement or a specific reason for the deal.

"This isn't rocket science, where we were going with this from the beginning," he said.

In an earlier interview, Padden said Grace had defamed Medrano and intentionally inflicted emotional distress on the 29-year-old mother. Relatives said Medrano had watched the Grace segment and was emotionally affected by it in the days before she killed herself. Medrano lit herself on fire while alone in the backyard and then ran inside the home severely injured. Relatives tried to help her and called 911.

The settlement must be approved by a judge. That hearing is expected to occur within a couple weeks in Dakota County District Court in Hastings, Padden said. He had threatened a lawsuit if a settlement was not reached.

The settlement benefits Medrano's heirs, Padden said. That includes her five children, husband, mother, two sisters and brother.

"Obviously they're satisfied that it's over," Padden said of Medrano's relatives. "I think everybody wants closure, and this gives them closure."

Scott Wente

Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011.

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