Kentucky Sports Radio asks judge to dismiss harassment lawsuit filed by NCAA referee
John Higgins sued the University of Kentucky fan media outlet, claiming he and his family were harmed when his personal and business information was shared online and on the radio after UK’s postseason loss to North Carolina.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Kentucky Sports Radio and its operators, Matt Jones and Drew Franklin, have asked a federal judge in Nebraska to dismiss a lawsuit filed against them by NCAA basketball official John Higgins, arguing the state has no jurisdiction over them.
Higgins sued the University of Kentucky fan media outlet last month, claiming he and his family were harmed when his personal and business information was shared online and on the radio after UK’s postseason loss to North Carolina.
As a result, Higgins argued, fans gave his business negative reviews and made threats to him and his loved ones.
But attorneys on behalf of KSR, Jones and Franklin argue they have no contacts in Nebraska and did not target any “activities towards readers or listeners in the state,” and asked the judge to dismiss. If the lawsuit should continue, Omaha attorney Michael Cox argued in the motion, it should be moved to Kentucky.
“The defendants do not target citizens in Nebraska,” according to the motion filed Monday. “Both the radio program hosted by Jones and the Kentucky Sports Radio website edited by Franklin are aimed at University of Kentucky sports fans in the state of Kentucky.”
And the allegations in the lawsuit -- that Higgins was targeted by UK fans because of poor officiating in the NCAA loss to North Carolina -- were also “not directed at Nebraska, but at Mr. Higgins’ actions as a NCAA referee which took place in Memphis, Tennessee – not Nebraska,” according to the motion.
In addition, the potential witness include "other Kentucky media outlets" who reported on Higgins and fan reaction to him, the motion argues.
In sworn affidavits attached to the motion to dismiss, Jones and Franklin say they have no ties to Nebraska and their media platforms also have limited visibility there – with only .22% of the website’s traffic coming from that state in 2017.
In his affidavit, Jones said he “never encouraged anyone to defame, harm, or interfere with the Plaintiffs or their business in anyway shape or form. … In fact, on the radio show broadcast, I advised people to not take the actions described in” the lawsuit.
Franklin also said in his affidavit that he has never "made any agreement with, or made any offer to, anyone to harm, harass, defame, or interfere" with Higgins or his family or business.
The lawsuit claimed that while Jones told fans to stop this conduct, he read many of the comments directed at Higgins online on the radio.
The comments Jones did make – including “Oh my goodness, you know what his roofing company name is? Rooferees” – were “targeted” to the audience in Kentucky, not Nebraska, the motion to dismiss argues.
Forcing KSR to litigate a case in Nebraska would be “unduly burdensome and unfair,” Cox argues.
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