2008-09-24 / Correspondents' Notes

Court Upholds $3.5M Verdict Against Pa. Newspaper

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) - A state appeals court has upheld a $3.5 million verdict against The Citizens' Voice, ruling that the Wilkes- Barre newspaper defamed a businessman and one of his companies.

Thomas A. Joseph sued the Voice; its parent company, The Scranton Times LP; and former Voice reporter Edward Lewis over a series of articles in 2001 concerning raids by state police and IRS agents at Joseph's home and business.

Joseph, who was never charged as a result of the investigation, claimed the paper defamed him by citing anonymous sources who linked him to suspected illegal activity.

In 2006, Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella awarded $2 million to Joseph and $1.5 million to one of his companies, Acumark Inc., a direct mail marketing firm. The Voice appealed.

In a decision issued Thursday, the state Superior Court ruled that the articles were inaccurate and "resulted in a falsehood'' against Joseph and Acumark. The court also said the paper failed to follow its own rules on the use of anonymous sources.

Voice Publisher Scott Lynett said Friday that the paper is "obviously very disappointed in the Superior Court's ruling. We disagree with their findings and our attorneys are currently reviewing the opinion to decide on any appeal strategy.''

Return to top