Guy Sues Newspaper Editor For Refusing To Remove Articles He Doesn't Like About His Son

from the that's-not-how-the-press-works dept

Romenesko points us to the news that the father of a former Berkeley student/football player, Chris Purtz, who passed away last year is now suing the editor of the Daily Cal (the student-run newspaper associated with the University of California at Berkeley) for refusing to remove an article from a few years ago, about an embarrassing incident involving Purtz. Purtz’s father is claiming that the article, which talked about Chris being suspended from the football team after a “physical confrontation” at an adult club in San Francisco, should be deleted since it “inflicts harm” on his son’s memory. Of course, that’s not quite how freedom of the press works, so it seems unlikely that this lawsuit will get very far. Even odder, is that the lawsuit isn’t even targeting the newspaper itself, but the editor (who didn’t even work for the paper at the time the original article was printed). As numerous legal experts in the article linked above note, the elder Purtz has almost no chance of succeeding in this case. What they don’t mention, is that in filing this lawsuit, Purtz has also called a lot more attention to the story he wished to bury.

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Comments on “Guy Sues Newspaper Editor For Refusing To Remove Articles He Doesn't Like About His Son”

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MrWilson says:

There are so many attacks on non-preferable truths, it seems.

The fact that [insert genocidal dictator here] is being accurately reported in history books as a genocidal dictator is damaging to his memory. Someone should sue the historians!

Brilliant solution for the Emperor: Put on some clothes instead of trying to sue people who point out that you’re buck naked. Also, realize that you can’t purge reports of your nudity once those reports are online, so get over it and move on.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:


“Obviously not…”

Sure we could. All we need to do is figure out some semi-abitrary way of identifying those types of people that tend to bring up Hitler on blogs. And really, let’s throw mentions of fascism, Mao, and communism in there as well. Once we’ve got our method for identifying them, you just round them all up.

Now, we could kill all these people, but that seems like a waste. I suggest we put these people who won’t stop bringing up Hitler into a series of barely livable settlements. Let’s call them, oh I don’t know, clustering grounds. There we can kill off the weak and the old Hitler-mentioners, since really they’re a drain on the civilized discussion of we undeniably more perfect peoples, and put the others to work creating the vehicles and materials needed to round up even more of these people.

Then, once our nation is decidedly depleted of these cancerous Hitler-talkers, we can assist our nearby neighbor nations in doing the same through, er, aggressive teaching techniques. Once we’ve spread this movement across the planet, the world will be a more perfect place, free from Hitler talkers!

See? Perfect plan for never having to talk about Hitler again….

Anonymous Coward says:

This case has no merit but it’s always easier to sue the employee than the business. Remember if your boss tells you to do something illegal, and you do it, then you’re personally liable. Example – if you work in retail, and your boss tells you to not accept warranty returns and you follow that order then you personally are liable for any actions – same if your boss told you to shoot someone and you do.

Mikael (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Um…You’re not exactly correct there. People in the wrong try to sue the person with the least chance of defense. They probably thought that suing the editor directly he would change his mind, but he’s not. They probably didn’t think he would be able to have adequate defense attorneys and figured he’d cave before anything really happened. If they really knew they could win this at the beginning they would have sued the paper and not the editor personally.

Also not taking warranty returns because your manager told you not to is VERY different from shooting someone because they told you to do it. If it’s a documented policy that you take warranty returns and you are told not to by your manager you would have to just be an idiot not to take those returns without getting that instruction in writing. Otherwise you could just lose your job when the boss says they never told you not to take the returns. You can refuse the order and if you get fired for it you can sue the company because you were following policy and the boss told you to violate it. If they tell you to shoot someone and you do it, it’s ALL on you unless the boss was holding a gun to your head when they told you to do it.

Now about the story, this man has no grounds to sue the editor or anyone for that matter. The article was published back in 2006 and the son died last year in June. Four years have past since the article was published, and you can’t ask someone to remove it because you don’t like how it depicts your son who is now dead. Just because they don’t like what their son did and don’t like how it made him look, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Like many others, I had no idea who he was until I saw this article. If you do a google search now for the son’s name, the first few pages are nothing but other sites talking about the lawsuit and the article from 2006. From reading some of the content on the sites talking about this I was given the impression that the son was the kind of guy that gave the outward appearance of being this nice perfect son/student, but when with his equally as douchebag friends he was probably an asshole. Maybe he was, maybe he wasn’t, but it still doesn’t change the fact that he did what he did at that strip club.

The parents screwed up and now they have to deal with everyone knowing about not only the 2006 article, but now the ones about their ridiculous lawsuit.

Anonymous Coward says:


That’s my reaction too. I understand that he might not be able to be objective or clear thinking on the matter (grief is a terrible blinder), so while he believes he’s defending his son, he cannot see that dredging this up would only serve to re-sully his memory with something that should’ve been left in obscurity.

Damn sad shame all round.

velox says:

You can't defame the dead (in most states)

Regardless of what may or may not have been said in the newspaper article, and regardless of whether it was true or not, it doesn’t matter.
Generally you can’t defame the dead, as the dead legally do not have a reputation to protect. Five states however, do have statutes regarding defamation of the dead.
California is not one of them.

On a side note — I’m just curious, why do some lawyers file lawsuits that they know have zero chance of success?

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