Phoenix Station Figures Out Much Reported Lawsuit a Hoax

By Kevin Eck 

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After Phoenix NBC affiliate KPNX reported on a story that had also been picked up by some major news outlets, the station did some further checking and discovered the story wasn’t true.

A story on the website for Tucson CBS and Fox affiliate KOLD-KMSB said Jared Loughner was suing his victim Gabrielle Giffords. Loughner is serving seven life sentences plus 140 years for a 2011 shooting that killed six and wounded 13, including Giffords.

KPNX ran the story on its 5 p.m. newscast. The story also showed up on some major media sites. After it aired on KPNX, investigative reporter Wendy Halloran got a tip that the suit didn’t come from Loughner, but was from a mentally unstable federal inmate. Halloran told management and got the story changed on the station website. The story the ran again at 10 with the new information.

“There was never any question that we would tell our audience what actually happened,” KPNX vp and GM Mark Casey told TVSpy. “All the credit goes to Wendy, a former victim advocate in the San Diego County prosecutor’s office. She is a bulldog on these kinds of stories. She covered Loughner when he went through the federal court system following the shooting and, more than anyone, is aware of what kind of man this is.”

KPNX reports the lawsuit was dismissed on Thursday because it was fake.

As an aside, KOLD GM Michael Cooper told TVSpy the station doesn’t believe the lawsuit was written by an inmate.

Last week, Alleged Kalamozoo shooter Jason Dalton also filed a lawsuit against Uber. His lawsuit was for $10 million. Above the Law reports a man named Jonathan Lee Riches, “a man who’s filed thousands upon thousands of lawsuits in his lifetime,” says he filed that lawsuit.

KOLD’s website makes the case the Loughner and Dalton lawsuits are strikingly similar.

The envelopes of both the alleged Loughner lawsuit and the fake Dalton lawsuit have very similar characteristics.

Both have the same three stamps in the top right corner, have similar handwriting and are postmarked in Philadelphia, PA.

Tucson News Now is working to determine the validity of the Loughner lawsuit and will continue to update this story.

From Politico which credited KPNX for the journalism:

The original source for all of the articles about the apparently fake lawsuit is Tucson News Now, a website for Tucson’s local CBS and Fox affiliates. Both stations are owned by Raycom Media, which owns and operates a large number of local broadcast affiliates throughout the country.

The Tucson News Now report was originally published at 4:31 p.m. on Wednesday with the headline, “Loughner suing Giffords, federal government for $25 million.” It was updated at 12:30 a.m. on Thursday and now bears the headline, “Loughner lawsuit against Giffords, federal government could be hoax.” The article appears to have been completely rewritten and now provides evidence why the lawsuit is likely a hoax.