PR firm files defamation suit against local radio hosts, broadca - WDRB 41 Louisville News

PR firm files defamation suit against local radio hosts, broadcaster, related to U of L sex scandal leak

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A local public relations firm has filed a defamation suit against a broadcaster, its parent company and two local radio hosts, claiming they used their media platforms to falsely accuse the firm of leaking harmful information about its client, the University of Louisville, related to the Katina Powell sex scandal.

The suit was filed by RunSwitch, LLC, and two of its partners, Scott Jennings and Steve Bryant, against UB Louisville, LLC, its parent company, Kansas-based Union Broadcasting, Inc., and local sports radio hosts John Ramsey and Mike Rutherford.

Ramsey and Rutherford are hosts of "Ramsey & Rutherford in the Afternoon," which is broadcast on WLCL-FM, a station operated by UB Louisville, LLC.

The suit concerns events stemming from a press conference that took place on Feb. 5, in which University of Louisville President James Ramsey, Athletics Director Tom Jurich and Men's Basketball Coach Rick Pitino announced the U of L men's basketball team was voluntarily withdrawing its participation in the NCAA tournament this season. U of L President James Ramsey said the move came as a result of as-yet undisclosed information he received involving the Katina Powell sex scandal.

James Ramsey and John Ramsey are not related.

According to the lawsuit, Lexington commentator Matt Jones, manager of Kentucky Sports Radio, posted information about the press conference beforehand, indicating that he was aware it, and that he knew it was, "regarding the fact that the U of L administration was preparing to make an announcement concerning its basketball program."

Later that month, the suit says, radio hosts Ramsey and Rutherford blamed RunSwitch, a U of L public relations consulting firm, for leaking information about their own client to Jones.

"Apparently Scott Jennings has told people that he's done this," Ramsey said on the air, according to the lawsuit. "He thinks it is some badge of honor, but it is going to ruin your company, which is a PR firm, Runswitch. How can you trust these guys?"

"So if it wasn't them, then it was somebody in that inner circle who has access, was privy to that sort of information," Rutherford said a moment later, on the air, according to the suit. "Which, whoever it is, I mean, come on, I don't care where your allegiance lies, that's just not professional. They deserve to lose business based on this. I do hope that is the case. That is not how you do PR. You should not have a job..."

"Did I mention that I don't like RunSwitch?" Ramsey said, according to the suit. "Did I say that?"

The suit claims that the radio hosts falsely accused Jennings and/or Bryant of leaking a photograph of a meeting itinerary to radio host Matt Jones.

According to the lawsuit, Jones publicly denied on air that RunSwitch was the source of the leak, stating, "None of you have come close to knowing who it is. These people have picked out some poor dude who I don't even know and they are, they have all blamed him...I haven't even met the guy. I have no idea who he is. And people are just being awful to him. It is a complete -- you want to see a witch hunt mentality? These Louisville fans are literally harassing a man I don't even know because they have assumed that he was the person...I'm just telling you -- you can believe me or not, but it ain't him."

The lawsuit states that on Feb. 17, radio host John Ramsey responded to Jones' denial by tweeting out the statement, "he [Jennings] and his firm ARE the leak," and published that statement daily on his Twitter page through March 21.

The plaintiffs claim that this constituted, "a daily republication of the false and defamatory statement for more than a month, reaching a new and different audience from that of the 'Ramsey & Rutherford' radio show.

The suit goes on to allege that the hosts made the "false statements" in podcasts which were posted on ESPNLouisville.com and Cardchronicle.com, despite being informed by both Jones and the plaintiffs that Runswitch was not involved in the leak.

As a result, the plaintiffs accuse the various defendants of defamation, negligent supervision and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and seek damages for that alleged wrongdoing.

On Thursday afternoon, John Ramsey issued a brief statement on his radio show.

"I take this position and profession very seriously," Ramsey said. "My track record is very good, and I know that integrity and honesty is important to our listeners, and of course, to me. I have never wavered from delivering factual information. On the advice from counsel, that is all I will be saying on this matter."

He declined to discuss the issue further.

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