The charge is defamation, the verdict is guilty and the penalty is $1M. Hubbard Broadcasting’s ABC KSTP in the Minneapolis-St. Paul DMA ran stories about a healer who used unorthodox methods that was found to be ill-researched and damaging to the career and reputation of the healer. An appeal is expected.
According to the Star-Tribune, facts were available to KSTP, but instead the station’s news team was said to have swallowed the tale of a patient of the healer “hook, line and sinker” without regard to those facts.
It is thought to be the largest such jury award in Minnesota history, and is all the more amazing since there was no punitive penalty tacked on to it. $100K was awarded to the healer for lost income and $900K for damage to reputation.
The patient who provided the basis for the stories had claimed that the healer took her off of drug therapy for anxiety, and that as a result she almost committed suicide. But there was no proof of the suicide attempt, and a traditional doctor who also treated the patient was involved in the decision to end the medication administration.
An attorney for KSTP is planning to appeal the case, hoping to have it overturned or at least to have the penalty reduced, but the jury decided KSTP had acted “with malice,” which is said to make getting either result a steep legal climb for the station.