Thursday, April 14, 2011

Newspaper's 'Initial' Error Prompts Libel Suit

Erie Times-NewsImage via WikipediaThe online edition of  The Erie (Pa.) Times-News,, reports today on a defamation suit filed against its owner, Times Publishing Co., by an individual whose name and photo were published, incorrectly identifying him as a robbery suspect.

The daily on April 15, 2009, wrongly published the name and photo of plaintiff Gary N. Wiley, instead of Gary C. Wiley, the actual robbery defendant. The newspaper subsequently published a correction explaining the mix-up, which occurred because the Crawford County Correctional Facility mistakenly forwarded Gary N. Wiley's photo to the Times-News.

The plaintiff claims in his lawsuit filed in Erie County Court that the erroneous publication of his name and photo amounted to libel per se and constituted negligence by the defendants. That the newspaper printed an unequivocal retraction doesn't absolve it of potential liability for defamation, though it likely would derail any claim for punitive damages.

"TUOL" can't help but wonder what it is about Pennsylvanians named "Gary Wiley"  that causes them to run afoul of the law. It's eerie, not Erie.
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