JUDGE REFUSES TO DIMISS ALL BUT

ONE COUNT OF REPORTERS’ SUIT

TAMPA (July 14, 1998)—A Florida judge has denied Fox Television’s motion to dismiss two of the three counts in the lawsuit filed by investigative reporters Jane Akre and Steve Wilson and given the plaintiffs the opportunity to amend and re-file the single count he did dismiss Tuesday.

In dismissing only one count of the suit, Circuit Judge Robert Bonanno said the journalists’ original complaint failed to indicate compliance with a technical requirement of Florida’s whistleblower protection law. He has given them 20 days to amend their claim.

Fox contended the journalists never provided the broadcaster with written allegations that they were ordered by station management to broadcast false or slanted news reports. Florida law requires notification in writing before plaintiffs are entitled to civil remedies under the state whistleblower protection act.

"The truth is that there is a long paper trial that shows we did indeed provide the necessary notification in writing on several occasions," said plaintiff Jane Akre. "We will be happy to better detail all those efforts and re-file that particular element of our claim in the next few days."

Added co-plaintiff Steve Wilson: "We're anxious to get back to the discovery process so we can document more of what really motivated Fox to dismiss us and refuse to broadcast a fair and honest story about bovine growth hormone."


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