Make us your home page
Instagram

Appeals court affirms decision to throw out $10M libel verdict against Times Publishing Co.

The 2nd District Court of Appeal has affirmed a lower court's decision to throw out a $10 million libel verdict concerning articles that appeared in the St. Petersburg Times.

The lawsuit focused on three articles written by the late Times reporter Paul de la Garza about Dr. Harold L. Kennedy, former chief of medicine at Bay Pines VA Medical Center.

Times attorney Alison Steele welcomed the ruling, saying, "The Times has never wavered in its belief in Mr. de la Garza or the stories."

The plaintiff's attorney, Timothy Weber, said, "Obviously, Dr. Kennedy is disappointed and we'll take a look at the decision and what our options are."

Weber said no decision has yet been made on whether to appeal. He said the case could not be appealed to the Florida Supreme Court, but that an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court is possible.

He said he was disappointed that the appellate court simply affirmed the lower court's ruling without comment, and that the lower court did not provide extensive explanation for why the jury's verdict was overturned.

The articles mentioned in the lawsuit were published in 2003 about Kennedy and his reassignment from chief of medicine to his subspecialty of cardiology at Bay Pines.

Kennedy filed suit in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court in 2005. He and his attorney argued that portions of the articles were false, and that the Times knew or should have known they were false.

But the Times argued at the trial, and in a motion later to the judge, that the articles were accurate.

After the five-day trial in 2009, a jury sided with Kennedy, saying he should be awarded $5.1 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages.

But in 2010, Circuit Judge Anthony Rondolino overturned the ruling, saying evidence in the case was "insufficient to cross the threshold required by the First Amendment."

De la Garza, who wrote the articles, died in 2006, before the trial.

Appeals court affirms decision to throw out $10M libel verdict against Times Publishing Co. 10/20/11 [Last modified: Thursday, October 20, 2011 7:56pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. In advertising, marketing diversity needs a boost in Tampa Bay, nationally

    Business

    TAMPA — Trimeka Benjamin was focused on a career in broadcast journalism when she entered Bethune-Cookman University.

    From left, Swim Digital marketing owner Trimeka Benjamin discusses the broad lack of diversity in advertising and marketing with 22 Squared copywriter Luke Sokolewicz, University of Tampa advertising/PR professor Jennifer Whelihan, Rumbo creative director George Zwierko and Nancy Vaughn of the White Book Agency. The group recently met at The Bunker in Ybor City.
  2. Tampa Club president seeks assessment fee from members

    News

    TAMPA — The president of the Tampa Club said he asked members last month to pay an additional assessment fee to provide "additional revenue." However, Ron Licata said Friday that the downtown business group is not in a dire financial situation.

    Ron Licata, president of the Tampa Club in downtown Tampa. [Tampa Club]
  3. Under Republican health care bill, Florida must make up $7.5 billion

    Markets

    If a Senate bill called the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 becomes law, Florida's government would need to make up about $7.5 billion to maintain its current health care system. The bill, which is one of the Republican Party's long-promised answers to the Affordable Care Act imposes a cap on funding per enrollee …

    Florida would need to cover $7.5 billion to keep its health care program under the Republican-proposed Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.  [Times file photo]
  4. Amid U.S. real estate buying binge by foreign investors, Florida remains first choice

    Real Estate

    Foreign investment in U.S. residential real estate recently skyrocketed to a new high with nearly half of all foreign sales happening in Florida, California and Texas.

    A National Association of Realtors annual survey found record volume and activity by foreign buyers of U.S. real estate. Florida had the highest foreign investment activity, followed by California and Texas. [National Association of Realtors]
  5. Trigaux: Tampa Bay health care leaders wary of getting too far ahead in disruptive times

    Business

    Are attempts to repeal Obamacare dead for the foreseeable future? Might the Affordable Care Act (ACA), now in dire limbo, be revived? Will Medicaid coverage for the most in need be gutted? Can Republicans now in charge of the White House, Senate and House ever agree to deliver a substitute health care plan that people …

    Natalia Ricabal of Lutz, 12 years old, joined other pediatric cancer patients in Washington in July to urge Congress to protect Medicaid coverage that helped patients like Ricabal fight cancer. She was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma in 2013 and has undergone extensive treatments at BayCare's St. Joseph's Children's Hospital in Tampa. [Courtesy of BayCare]