Sunday, December 14, 2003

Stranger than fiction:
Florida Blog's been mentioning this trial going on in Pensacola, but the story sounded too strange to be real.
But Friday, a jury awarded a developer $18.3 million from the Pensacola News Journal because they wrote a story about him that said he had killed his wife, and didn't say that it was ruled an accident until two sentences later. The plaintiff, politically influential founder of the Anderson Columbia paving company, claimed he was denied financing for a giant cement plant because a company official read a shortened version of the story in Nexis, and concluded he was a murderer. A Lexis Nexis representative testified no such version exists in their database, but the jury found that Anderson was denied his contract because of the story. Further action for punitive damages against News Journal parent Gannett may still proceed.
From the News Journal story, quoting an plaintiff's attorney:
    "The Gannett Co. has a lot of power and, buddy, when they set out to get you, they get you," Gary said.
    Madison McClellan, another Anderson attorney, struck the same theme when he argued that the newspaper, already determined to tell everything that was wrong with Anderson and his company, then saw an opportunity to "sex up" the story with violence and a shooting.
    "That's National Enquirer. That's tabloid," McClellan said. "But it sells."


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