NEXT DEVELOPMENT:
Wilson-Akre wait
for response from DCA
on filing of appeal.

Report Archive:

ˇ July, 2003:
Monsanto takes another Dairy to court over milk label

ˇ February 28, 2003:
Wilson-Akre file appeal of 2nd DCA reversal

ˇ February 28, 2003:
Mitch Perry (WMNF-FM)
report on Appeal
 

ˇ February 28, 2003:
Text of Appeal of 
2nd DCA Reversal


ˇ February 19, 2003:
Appeals Court Reverses
Jury verdict



ˇ February 14, 2003:
WTVT Ruling Coverage


ˇ February 14, 2003:
Florida Court Ruling (pdf)


ˇ April 9, 2002:
O
ral Arguments Set in Fox Whistleblower Case 


ˇ April 9, 2002:
Akre Appeal and Documents


ˇ April 9, 2002:
Wilson Appeal and Documents

ˇ
September 13, 2001:
Amicus Brief 
(Friends of the Court)

ˇ November 2, 2000:
J
ury Veridct Stands

ˇ October 12, 2000:
JUDGE RELUCTANT TO SET ASIDE JURY VERDICT
Fox gets 15 days to submit 
new brief 


ˇ September 7 2000:
BOTH SIDES APPEAL JURY VERDICT
Trial judge will hear
arguments October 12

ˇ August 26, 2000:
VERDICT DOESN'T STOP FOX FROM CONTINUING TO DISTORT THE NEWS
News, Analysis and Commentary about how Fox twists news of verdict and 
reports "total vindication"

ˇ August 18, 2000:
VICTORY IN COURT!
Full coverage of the jury's 
decision in the Fox/BGH suit

ˇ August 5, 2000:
Guest Editorial


ˇ July 27, 2000:
Trial Coverage: Days 8-9
Startling Admission from Fox
V-P Who Fired Wilson/Akre

ˇ July 26, 2000:
Trial Coverage: Day 7
V-P News Lays Claim To
Insanity Defense

ˇ July 24, 2000:
Trial Coverage: Day 6
Second week of trial begins

ˇ July 21, 2000:
Trial Coverage: Day 5
Week one ends with a bang;
Fox seeks mistrial, Judge
says no

ˇ  July 20, 2000:
Trial Coverage: Days 3 and 4 

ˇ July 18, 2000:
Trial Coverage: Day 2


ˇ July 17, 2000:
Trial Coverage: Day 1

ˇ July 14, 2000:
Justice For Sale In Tampa?
Finally at the courthouse,
litigants can't afford to use
the courtroom facilities

ˇ July 12, 2000:
Fox Loses Key Motion; Jury
Is Seated

Plaintiffs do not have to
prove Fox guilty of violating Communications Act

ˇ July 8, 2000:
Potential Landmine Could
Derail Entire Case

ˇ June 30, 2000:
Judge Steinberg Ready To
Get Case Back On Track

ˇ June 26, 2000:
Another Judge Says 'No' to Hearing Wilson/Akre v Fox Case

ˇ June 21, 2000:
Still No Judge To Hear Fox/BGH Case While Foxes Dishes More Distortion To WTVT Tampa Viewers

ˇ June 16, 2000:
Trial Date Pushed Back Again; New Judge To Be Selected

ˇ June 8, 2000:
Fox  Manager Who Fired Akre and Wilson In Tampa Gets Big Promotion 
David Boylan Flies Into The Sunset to Manage KTTV, Los Angeles

ˇ June 6, 2000:
Fox Trial Will Start Sooner Than Expected
It will proceed in the heat of the summer, probably in July

ˇ May 25, 2000:
Fox Trial Will Not Start June 12 as Scheduled

ˇ May 18, 2000:
Fox Still Stalls on Testimony of Its president Mitchell Stern
Pre-trial hearing is otherwise uneventful

ˇ May 8, 2000:
Ralph Nader Testifies About Broadcasters' Public Interest Requirement
Presidential candidate gives testimony at pre-trial depo 

ˇ May 5, 2000:
Court-ordered Mediation Is Brief and Unsuccessful
Trial set to begin June 12

ˇ April 28,2000:
Fox Challenges rBGH Experts At Depositions

Fox lawyers laying ground-
work to tell jurors experts are cancer scaremongers?

ˇ April 26,2000:
Walter Cronkite Testifies on Behalf of Akre & Wilson
Fox lawyers lodge objections

ˇ October 19:
Fox Lawyers Insist On Secrecy At Deposition
French TV Ejected

ˇ October 18:
FDA Wants Comments on G-M Foods
Public Meetings Start in November

ˇ October 13:
Judge Rules: Trial Will Proceed: Defense loses third effort to have case dismissed

ˇ September 24:
MSNBC: Gene-modified foods might get labels:
Industry weighs voluntary steps, U.S. studies options as well

ˇ September 20:
Trial Still Set to Start Soon: Busy Docket Delays foxBGHsuit

ˇ August 4:
MSNBC: Mutable Feast:
Will the fight over gene-altered food products leapfrog across the Atlantic?

ˇ June 30:
Consumers International:
UN Health Group Shuns BGH

ˇ June 1:
New York Times:
Farmers’ Right To Sue Grows - Food Warning Muzzle Likely

ˇ May 10:
Corporate Crime Reporter:
Monsanto Officials Join Leading Consumer, Environmental Groups

ˇ May 3:
Fox Deceives Viewers in Primetime, Too
Net Admits Staging after INSIDE EDITION Report

ˇ April 30:
Democracy Group Award to Akre/Wilson
Fired Reporters Cited for "Courage in Journalism"

ˇ April 29:
New Trial Date is October 11
Fox Piles On Big-Name Lawyers

ˇ April 17:
Clinton Lawyer Joins Fox Legal Team
David Kendall Involvement Confirmed in Letter to Monsanto

ˇ April 16:
Fox Pleads for Another Delay
Later Trial Date to be Set April 29th

ˇ April 1:
Judge Says BGH Case Will Go To Trial
Opening Gavel Falls May 10th

ˇ February 16:
PENTHOUSE Exposes BGH, Fox Coverup:
First-rate story of BGH situation and lawsuit against Fox TV (rated G -- no nudity, just the story)

ˇ January 25:
ENS Summary of BGH Developments

ˇ January 14:
How Fox Wanted to Slant News of Canadian Concerns
Canadian BGH Concerns Were Big Issue In Firing of Fox Reporters

ˇ January 14:
Canada Says NO to BGH!
Read the CBC Story or View-Listen to report with RealPlayer

ˇ January 14:
Health Canada Rejects Bovine Growth Hormone in Canada
Government News Release

ˇ December 16:
Akre & Wilson Win Courage Award
For Work On Story Which Cost Them Their Jobs

ˇ December 15:
ABC NEWS Catches Up on BGH
Read the ABC Story or View-Listen to report with RealPlayer

ˇ November 7:
FOX Legal (8/28) Answers
to Reporters' Complaint Now Available

ˇ November 1:
Monsanto and Fox: Partners in Censorship
PR Watch - Showcase Article

ˇ October 30:
Canadians Probe Coverup Claim
Read CBC Story or View-Listen to report with RealPlayer

ˇ October 24:
Reporters Get Top SPJ Ethics Award

ˇ October 22:
BGH Issue Explodes in Canada:
Read CBC Story or View-Listen to report with RealPlayer

ˇ October 7:
SECRET Canadian Study Leaked...
...BGH safety questions unanswered?

ˇ Sept 13:
Akre-Wilson Depos Start

ˇ Sept 10:
TIMES/St. Petersburg
SP Times covers NutraSweet flap

ˇ Sept 10:
Our Story: Fox Still Protecting Monsanto?

ˇ Sept 8:
Fox Pulls Plug on NutraSweet Foe

ˇ Sept 1:
Reporters Respond To Defense

ˇ READ story FOX-TV refused to air...
or View-Listen to report with RealPlayer

ˇ July 14:
Judge refuses to dismiss
all but one count of reporters' suit

ˇ July 5:
OBSERVER/London
Digger Still Plays Dirty

ˇ July 1:
Depositions Continue, Trial Date Set

ˇ June 7:
TIMES/St. Petersburg
Akre/Wilson Preparing FCC Complaint

ˇ May 26:
Judge rejects Defense motion
for Protective Order

ˇ May 25:
WEEKLY PLANET/Tampa:
Grazing A Stink - - -Don't Have a Cow

ˇ May 23:
NEW YORK TIMES:
(Silenced) Reporters... Post Web Site

ˇ May 21:
Wilson/Akre demand on-air correction

ˇ April 29:
FOX-TV asks court:
Dismiss case and Delay depositions

CITIZEN’S FUND FOR THE RIGHT TO KNOW
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  

February 28. 2003


Wilson-Akre File
Appeal of 
2nd DCA Reversal

          Two former Fox Television (WTVT-13) journalists have filed appeals of a ruling that they must pay the legal costs and fees the broadcaster incurred defending itself in a landmark whistleblower case the reporters filed in 1998.  The journalists estimate Fox spent more than a million dollars on its defense.

          The ruling assessing the fees came on the heels of a ruling that overturned a August 2000 jury verdict and $425,000 award to former Fox investigative reporter Jane Akre.  Although jurors unanimously concluded she was pressured by Fox lawyers and managers to broadcast what the jury agreed was “a false, distorted or slanted story” and was fired for threatening to blow the whistle, the jury decision was reversed on a legal technicality when a higher court agreed with Fox that it is technically not against any law, rule or regulation to deliberately distort the news on television.

          In setting the jury verdict aside, the appeals court ruled that in order to be protected by Florida’s Whistleblower Act, the employer’s alleged misconduct must violate a written law.  The court said the FCC’s prohibition against news distortion is merely a policy.

          Fox lawyers had made the same argument on at least six occasions when it was rejected each time by three different judges in the trial court proceedings.

          “First, the jury’s decision is overturned on a technicality and a very narrow reading of the Whistleblower protection law, then the court sets the stage for Fox to destroy us financially,” Wilson said.  “This is cannot be consistent with the intent of state lawmakers who wrote a Whistleblower law to encourage and protect people who have the courage against all odds to stand up and call attention to wrongdoing.”

          “Nothing in the decision that reversed the verdict at trial absolved Fox of what the jury found to be misconduct in pressuring a reporter to go on the air with a false story just to protect it’s advertisers,” said Akre.  “They may call it vindication but overturning a jury’s decision on a technicality that it’s not illegal to lie on the public airwaves is not vindication in the mind of any honest and ethical journalist.

          “The truth is Rupert Murdoch and the big-money Washington lawfirm that represented Fox here have forced us to make another difficult decision about appealing these decision that set a dangerous precedent in two important areas,” Akre continued.

          “Our lawyers have told us there are ample grounds to appeal the decision that overturned the jury verdict.  Left to stand, no other journalist can ever prevail even when, as in this case, he or she is pressured to deliberately lie on the air,” said Akre.  “What will that mean for honesty in future broadcasts when unethical station owners and managers put their own interests ahead of honest reporting?

          “But also of vital importance,” Wilson continued, “is the state’s ruling that sets the stage for future, well-intentioned whistleblowers who do not ultimately prevail in court to be saddled with the employer’s legal fees and court costs.  This is a precedent that will hush-up ever Florida whistleblower not only in journalism, but in medicine and finance and every other walk that can victimize residents of our state.

          “Given the tens of thousands of dollars it costs to appeal to Florida’s Supreme Court, we are forced to choose on appeal or the other,” Wilson said.  “We have chosen to seek reconsideration of the ruling we see as the most dangerous of the two—the one that could discourage all future whistleblowers.”

          The appeal on the issue of legal fees was filed on behalf of the journalists Friday, February 28.  The motion asks for reconsideration of the issue by the same judges, by all of the appeals judges in the Second District, or for a writ to take the issue to the Florida Supreme Court.

          “If we had Rupert Murdoch’s money, we could continue the fight on both fronts,” Akre said.  “We are just one family trying our best to stand up for what we believe is right.  And we will not drop the issue that allows broadcasters the right to pressure reporters to lie or distort the news.

          “We are continuing to prepare a complaint to the Federal Communications Commission where we shall also challenge Fox’s license renewal in wake of their misconduct here,” she said.

          “At the very least, if there is no law, rule or regulation against using the public airwaves to knowingly present news that is false and distorted, it’s time the FCC or the Congress write one,” Wilson added.  “Clearly, our case shows you cannot count on all broadcasters to act ethically and honestly in reporting the news and putting the public interest ahead of their own.” 


Contacts for further information:

Jane Akre jakre@bellsouth.net
(904) 273-0345
Stuart Markman, 
attorney for Akre
(813) 229-1118
Steve Wilson wilson@foxBGHsuit.com
(727) 560-0749

Michael Finch, 
attorney for Wilson

(727) 562-7862

Text of Appeal filed February 28, 2003
2ndDCAappeal.htm

Report by Mitch Perry
which aired on WMNF-FM
February 28, 2003

Text of February 14, 2003
DCA ruling Reversing Jury Verdict
(pdf file)

Additional documents available on website:  www.foxBGHsuit.com            

Stories Posted Previously:

JUDGE RELUCTANT TO SET ASIDE JURY VERDICT; GIVES FOX 15 DAYS TO SUBMIT ANOTHER BRIEF

BOTH SIDES FILE APPEALS OF JURY VERDICT

DELIBERATE DISTORTION OF NEWS ON FOX TV CONTINUES WITH FALSE REPORTS OF VERDICT

VICTORY IN COURT -- FULL COVERAGE OF THE JURY'S VERDICT IN THE FOX/BGH SUIT

GUEST EDITORIAL:  WAKE UP, YOU WATCHDOGS

TRIAL COVERAGE:  STARTLING ADMISSIONS FROM FOX V-P WHO FIRED WILSON/AKRE

TRIAL COVERAGE:  INSANITY DEFENSE FOR FOX?

TRIAL COVERAGE:  SECOND WEEK BEGINS

TRIAL COVERAGE:  WEEK ONE ENDS WITH BANG

TRIAL COVERAGE:  DAYS THREE AND FOUR

TRIAL COVERAGE:  DAY TWO

TRIAL COVERAGE:  DAY ONE


JUSTICE FOR SALE AT THE COURTHOUSE?

FOX AIRS ANOTHER DISTORTED STORY ON rBGH

TRIAL DELAYED; NEW JUDGE TO BE CHOSEN

FOX MGR WHO FIRED JOURNOS GETS PROMOTED TO FOX'S SECOND-BIGGEST STATION

TRIAL TO START SOON, LATE JUNE/EARLY JULY

TRIAL DELAYED AGAIN WILL NOT START 6/12

FOX STALLS ON TESTIMONY OF ITS PRESIDENT

RALPH NADER TESTIFIES RE PUBLIC INTEREST

MEDIATION IS BRIEF AND UNSUCCESSFUL

FOX CHALLENGES PLAINTIFFS' rBGH EXPERTS

CRONKITE TESTIFIES FOR AKRE & WILSON 


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