Wednesday, March 17, 2010

It Takes Brass Balls to Pursue Defamation Claim Against NBC Affiliate

Tradition symbol of pawnbrokers--three connect...Image via Wikipedia
WWBT-TV Channel 12, the Richmond, Va.-based NBC affiliate, is the target of a defamation suit brought by Jefferson Loan Office, a pawn shop that claims it was wrongly identified as underpaying customers for gold trade-ins in an undercover investigatory piece by the news station that allegedly confused the plaintiff with another pawn shop.

Courthouse News Service reports the suit stems from a Channel 12 expose on the practice of melting down gold jewelry. According to the plaintiff's complaint, Channel 12 anchor Sabrina Squire and reporter Curt Autry defamed Jefferson Loan Office by confusing it with Friedman's Loan pawn shop. The plaintiff alleges that undercover footage of a Friedman trannsaction purportedly showing customers being offered $75 for allegedly more than $200 worth of gold jewelry was wrongly attributed to Jefferson Loan Office.

Both pawn shops are located on Broad Street, but otherwise are unaffiliated. The complaint claims Autry concluded Jefferson customers were being "ripped off," based on the alleged Friedman footage. Moreover, the plaintiff accuses Channel 12 of never having appraised the jewelry it attempted to pawn in the story in any case.

Although Channel 12 ran a clarification of the story on its next day's 5 p.m. broadcast, Jefferson claims the station never apologized for the miscue. Jefferson Loan Office is seeking $1 million for the alleged damage to its reputation from the WWBT-TV story, broken down as $500,000 apiece for compensatory and punitive damages.

A significant suit, but one not likely to cause the NBC affiliate to go into hock should it ultimately result in an adverse ruling.

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1 comment:

  1. Sure, they talk the talk, but with three balls can they walk the walk. Meanwhile, the public is a pawn in this struggle.