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Court Rules CBS Opioid Broadcast Did Not Defame

The United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants, CBS Broadcasting, CBS News, reporter Jim Axelrod, anchor Scott Pelley, and producer Ashley Velie, in a lawsuit alleging defamation and false light invasion of privacy arising out of CBS News’ Peabody Award-winning series on the opioid crisis in West Virginia, ruling that the plaintiff had failed to establish that the defendants’ alleged defamatory statements were false. In a 41-page published opinion filed on August 21, 2018, the federal court further ruled for the defendants on the plaintiff’s claims of tortious interference and intentional infliction of emotional distress claims, concluding that the challenged broadcasts “were not only tolerable – they were applaudable.”

Flaherty Attorneys Thomas V. Flaherty and Wesley P. Page teamed with Ballard Spahr attorneys Michael D. Sullivan, Jay Ward Brown, and Maxwell S. Mishkin to obtain the result.

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