Both sides in the now dismissed lawsuit Jared Cerullo brought against Gray Television, KAKE and news director Michael Sipes are having their say.
Cerullo brought the suit after being fired from KAKE in 2013 for reporting and later tweeting that the defendant in a story he had been covering had pleaded guilty to murder when he had actually pleaded not guilty. Cerullo later made an on-air correction.
“I am extremely disappointed that Judge Henderson dismissed the defamation claim, which was the bulk of my case, instead of allowing a jury to look at the facts and decide for themselves whether or not Sipes did, in fact, defame my character,” said Cerullo.
Cerullo was seeking in excess of $75,000 in damages in his defamation and breach of contract suit.
He told TVSpy he “provided the judge with numerous electronic communications in which Sipes told concerned viewers that I lied about the events surrounding my termination, that I had a history of inaccurate reporting, and that this wasn’t this first time that I had been reprimanded for doing so.” He added, “All of those things are patently false and destroyed any chances I had of getting another similar job in television.”
“We were obviously pleased that Judge Henderson granted our motion for summary judgment and dismissed two of Mr. Cerullo’s three claims and limited the scope of his remaining claim in a manner that evidently led to Mr. Cerullo’s decision to dismiss his case,” Dan Wall, GM of the Wichita ABC affiliate, said in a statement. “We felt our position in the law suit was correct and our attorneys were preparing to try what was left of the case. At no point did we make any offer to settle the case.”
“I sincerely regret making the mistake that led to these events,” said Cerullo. “However, I do not believe I deserved to be ordered to clean out my belongings in front of everyone in the newsroom and leave the premises immediately that day. I didn’t deserve to have my reputation slandered in the way it was, of which I am still paying for today.”
“We are obviously pleased that the case is over,” said Wall. “There is little to be gained from going back over the events that led to Mr. Cerullo’s termination, and we have no intention of doing so, other than to say that we made a difficult decision, in the wake of an unfortunate set of circumstances, that we believed at the time and still believe was appropriate under those circumstances.”[Wichita Business Journal]