KSTP Found Guilty of Defamation, and $1M Award Is Highest in Minnesota History

By Merrill Knox 

A holistic healer in Wisconsin has been awarded $1 million in damages from Minneapolis ABC-affiliate KSTP for a story about her treatment of a patient that aired in 2009.

The $1 million award is believed to be the largest verdict ever in a Minnesota defamation lawsuit, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. An attorney for KSTP, Paul Hannah, said he expects the station will appeal, seeking to get the verdict reduced or overturned.

In 2009, KSTP reporter Jennifer Griswold (pictured) interviewed Cheryl Blaha, who said she had stopped taking anti-anxiety medication on the advice of Susan Anderson (then Susan Wahl), a holistic healer. Blaha claimed she had attempted suicide as a result of being weaned from the medication.

In the lawsuit, an attorney for Anderson said medical records showed that Blaha’s doctor had reduced the medication, and that there was no proof of the alleged suicide attempt. Anderson also claims that KSTP knew the story was false. In its verdict, the jury found “actual malice” against KSTP, which Anderson’s lawyer, Pat Tierney, said would make it significantly harder to overturn the verdict.