Judge sets aside $7.5 million award
CALIFORNIA — In mid-January a state trial judge in Los Angeles set aside a $7.5 million jury award won by a businessman in a libel suit against the Santa Barbara News-Press and its owner, the New York Times Co.
The judge ordered a new trial upon finding that the jury’s verdict was factually inconsistent and excessive, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The judge noted that while the businessman, Leonard M. Ross, was awarded $2.5 million for emotional distress, he neither sought professional care nor alleged permanent injury, the Journal reported.
Ross claimed that the News-Press had falsely reported that the government had investigated him for defrauding investors, the Associated Press reported.
The judge suggested that the newspaper’s refusal to concede that it may have made a mistake contributed to the excessive verdict. The judge also said that the newspaper was negligent, but he did not specify how, the Journal reported.
(Ross v. Santa Barbara News-Press; Media Counsel: Rex Heinke, Los Angeles)