A Nashville family is suing a media company in federal court after they say Cox’s WHPT-FM (The Bone) Tampa St. Pete’s “The Cowhead Show” posted an altered photograph of their son with Down’s syndrome on its website.
In a lawsuit filed 4/22, Pamela and Bernard Holland said the use of their son’s photo on The Cowhead Show website was malicious and defamatory.
The Hollands’ suit says the photo of their son was taken in 2004 when Adam Holland was 17 and in an art class. In the original photo, he is smiling at the camera and holding up a drawing that included the words “Go Titans.”
In 2012, according to court documents, a friend of the Hollands saw the photo on The Bone’s website. The photo had been altered to show the words “Retarded News” in place of his original drawing and was on a portion of the website used for weird news stories.
The Hollands say the altered image has caused “severe mental anguish and emotional distress” and “humiliation, fear and embarrassment.” They seek compensatory and punitive damages, reports The Tennesseean.
Cox Media Group spokesman Andy McDill wrote to The AP that the company is looking into the matter.
Said Larry Crain, the Holland family’s Nashville attorney: “Many of the laws protect celebrities who, for name recognition purposes, have a special interest in protecting their name and privacy. This is a case where an innocent individual has been victimized.”
The lawsuit said that Michael Sharkey, WHPT PD, apologized. The lawsuit quoted Sharkey’s email, which said, “We have removed that picture from our page and we are removing any reference to handicapped or disabled individuals.”
Sharkey apologized for “any grief this might have caused.”
The Hollands’ lawsuit also names Dave Brown, owner of an Oswego, NY.-based website called “Sign Generator,” as a defendant. Another defendant is Russell LaLevee, who posted Adam’s photo on his Flickr account with the caption, “just a stupid photo of the sick retarded kid that lives down my street that my dogs hate,” according to the lawsuit.