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Category: Legal

Howard Stern’s Taxing Lawsuit

| February 23, 2017

By Steven J.J. Weisman
TALKERS
Legal Editor

 

BOSTON — When Judith Barrigas called the IRS on May 19, 2015 to discuss the possible misapplication of her income tax refund by the IRS  for the year 2014, she had no idea that her 45-minute conversation with IRS agent Jimmy Forsythe would end up being broadcast to the more than 1 million listeners of the Howard Stern show.  This unlikely occurrence was due to the fact that apparently prior to taking her call, Forsythe had called the Howard Stern show and, as often is the case, was put on hold.  Then, apparently while using another phone line, Forsythe took Barrigas’ call and spoke to her about her income tax issues for approximately 45 minutes without being aware that their conversation was being picked up by the other phone and broadcast to the listeners of the Howard Stern show.

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Hulk Hogan vs Gawker: What Does it Mean to You?

| March 14, 2016

By Steven J.J. Weisman
TALKERS
Legal Editor

 

weismanwriterBOSTON — At first blush, although there does not appear to be much blushing going on in the videotape of Hulk Hogan having sex with the then-wife of his former friend Bubba the Love Sponge recorded in 2012, Hulk Hogan’s $100 million lawsuit against online news website Gawker would not appear to be a highly significant test of the limits of the First Amendment.  But indeed, this case could well set a major precedent as to how not just Gawker, but talk radio hosts and others cover the celebrity news.

Hogan, under his real name Terry Bollea, is suing Gawker for publishing online portions of a video tape apparently done by Bubba the Love Sponge, whose former name was Todd Clem, but actually legally changed his name to Bubba the Love Sponge which should, in and of itself, probably tell us something.  Although Bubba and his then wife, Heather Clem, from whom he is now divorced, were aware that the sexual activity between Heather Clem and Bollea was being filmed, Bollea was not aware and the filming of him was done illegally.

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Nielsen vs Bubba: Round One

| October 19, 2015

By Steven J.J. Weisman
TALKERS
Legal Editor

 

weismanwriterBOSTON — The late, great Southern humorist Lewis Grizzard wrote a book titled, Elvis Is Dead and I’m Not Feeling Too Good Myself.  I thought about this recently as I considered the problems that are just in their early stages for syndicated Tampa-based talk radio host, Todd Clem, who uses the stage name Bubba The Love Sponge.  Bubba may not be dead, but he is certainly not feeling so good himself these days.  But don’t worry, Bubba, things aren’t as bad as you think – they are worse.

Clem is being sued in the Federal District Court for the Middle District of Florida by Nielsen Audio for more than $1 million on civil charges of fraud, conspiracy to defraud, interfering with business and contractual relations and violation of Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Practices Act.  The Florida Deceptive and Unfair Practices Act is Florida’s version of the FTC Act which outlaws the broadly defined “unfair and deceptive acts and practices.”  Although the law is most often utilized by consumers, it also can apply to relationships between businesses as well.

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Glenn Beck Defamation Lawsuit Update

| June 18, 2015

By Steven J.J. Weisman
TALKERS
Legal Editor

 

weismanwriterBOSTON — The wheels of justice don’t turn particularly fast.  It has been two years since the Boston Marathon bombing and a year since Saudi Arabian student Abdulrahman Alharbi sued talk show host Glenn Beck for defamation.  At the time of the bombing and for some time thereafter, Beck was convinced that there was a conspiracy that extended beyond the Tsarnaev brothers that included another person who Beck publicly identified as an al Qaeda “control agent” and the “money man” behind the bombings, although the lack of sophistication involved in the crime did not appear to require any significant funding to bring about this attack.  Abdulrahman Alharbi , the man identified by Beck as the conspirator not only was present at the bombings, but actually was among those injured by the blasts.

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Can and Should You Censor a Political Ad?

| April 8, 2015

By Steven J.J. Weisman
TALKERS
Legal Editor

 

weismanwriterBOSTON — The victory of incumbent mayor (and former White House Chief of Staff) Rahm Emanuel over Cook County Commissioner Jesus G. Garcia in the April 7 runoff election for Chicago’s mayoral seat notwithstanding, the election is already quite noteworthy for a political television advertisement that Chicago voters got to see on the local Fox and NBC affiliates, but not on ABC 7 — Chicago’s highest rated local network affiliate — when ABC’s corporate legal department objected to two claims made within the advertisement.

The first objection dealt with a claim asserted in the advertisement that Emanuel earned $ 18 million as an investment banker between 1999 and 2002, but was paid that money although he performed, in the words of the advertisement, “almost no work.”  ABC objected to the phrase, “almost no work,” arguing that there was no support for that allegation.  Additionally, ABC objected to the allegations contained in the television advertisement that Emanuel used his position as mayor “to turn his brother’s investment in Uber into a billion dollars.”  Again, ABC said that there was no factual basis for this allegation.

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