Thursday, December 22, 2005

Scrushy Sues Birmingham News and Radio Host for Libel

Former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy and his wife, Linda, filed libel suits against the Birmingham News and Alabama radio personality Paul Finebaum for comments regarding their decision to switch churches during the government's investigation of fraud at the company.  The Scrushys changed congregations from one in the suburbs to a largely African-American church in Birmingham in 2003, after he was terminated from HealthSouth and the U.S. Attorney's investigation obtained the cooperation of all five CFOs regarding the accounting fraud.  The Scrushys allege that the Birmingham News quoted a law professor as stating that the change was to gain an advantage in the expected criminal prosecution and made them appear to be "like a devious hypocrite and heathen," while Finebaum is accused of making unflattering comments about Linda Scrushy.  Both defendants are challenging the suits on First Amendment grounds, and it will be interesting to see if the case can survive a summary disposition. An AP story (here) discusses the libel suits. (ph)

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