PR firm settles defamation suit against local radio hosts, broad - WDRB 41 Louisville News

PR firm settles 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 settled a defamation lawsuit with a broadcaster, its parent company and two local radio hosts accused of making false comments on the air. 

In March, Scott Jennings and his Louisville company, RunSwitch LLC, sued radio hosts John Ramsey and Mike Rutherford, claiming they falsely identified Jennings as the person who leaked news of the University of Louisville’s postseason men's basketball ban on Feb. 5 to Matt Jones, who runs Kentucky Sports Radio for University of Kentucky fans.

On Oct. 6, Ramsey and Rutherford apologized to Jennings on their show, "Ramsey & Rutherford in the Afternoon," which is broadcast on WLCL-FM on 93.9, a station operated by UB Louisville, LLC.

Jones said he had “three moles” on the story and Jennings was not one of them, Ramsey said on the show.

“We regret and apologize for any role we might have played in repeating rumors about RunSwitch PR and its owners, Scott Jennings and Steve Bryant,” Ramsey said at the time.

A court order on Friday dismissed the lawsuit, as both sides have reached a settlement. The details of the settlement were not disclosed in court records. 

 A statement from RunSwitch said: "Any allegation that RunSwitch leaked confidential information regarding the self-imposed suspension of the U of L basketball program is false. As to the dispute with Ramsey and Rutherford, that has been resolved and the parties have agreed not to discuss it further."

Drew Deener, vice president of ESPN Louisville, said in a statement that "the dispute with RunSwitch has been resolved and the parties have agreed not to discuss it further."

The suit revolved around events stemming from a Feb. 5 press conference in which then-U of L President James Ramsey, Athletics Director Tom Jurich and Men's Basketball Coach Rick Pitino announced the basketball team was voluntarily withdrawing its participation in the NCAA tournament this season. Ramsey said the move came as a result of the Katina Powell sex scandal.

James Ramsey and John Ramsey are not related.

According to the lawsuit, Jones posted information about the press conference beforehand, indicating that he was aware of 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 claimed, 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.

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