Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

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Thursday, March 31, 2005

Cleveland Browns Player Loses Defamation Claim Against Cleveland Radio Station

Cleveland Browns player David Wohlabaugh has lost his appeal against Salem Communications Corporation and local station WKNR for erroneously reporting in 2001 that he was arrested by the police. In 2003 the trial court granted WKNR's motion for summary judgment, finding "that Wohlabaugh was a public figure by virtue of his status as a professional athlete, and the appellees did not display actual malice in airing the false broadcasts." Wohlabaugh appealed six days after the time limit for the filing of the appeal and the appellate court dismissed. He then "filed a motion for reconsideration...arguing that co-counsel Peter Ginsberg, who appeared pro hoc vice, had not received notice of the trial court's judgment." The appellate court denied this motion as well. Ever persistent, Wolhabaugh "filed a motion for relief from judgment in the trial court...argu[ing] that summary judgment was improperly granted because evidence of actual malice was presented. Wohlabaugh contended that pro hoc vice co-counsel Peter Ginsberg was not served with the trial court's November 3, 2003 summary judgment entry. He had made this same argument to this court, as well. " After considering all motions, arguments and appeals, the 8th circuit upheld the trial court's original determination. It awarded costs to the appellees. Read the court's opinion here.

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