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Bloomberg: Lawsuit vs. Don Imus

Bloomberg: Marc Held, Partner, held & Hines, LLP quoted: Lawsuit vs. Don Imus

Viacom’s Infinity, Imus Sued By Auction Site Over Ad (Update1)

By Patricia Hurtado

Jan. 24 (Bloomberg) — Viacom Inc.’s Infinity Broadcasting radio unit and Don Imus were sued by an Internet auction site and publisher that claims the radio host disparaged it during paid promotional spots in 2007 for the planned sale of limited-edition books signed by President Gerald R. Ford.

Imus returned to talk radio last month and pledged to be a “better person’ after an eight-month exile for racially charged remarks made last April about the women’s basketball team at Rutgers University. His comments about the auction site were made before he was fired in April by Viacom’s CBS Corp. unit. Infinity managed Westwood One, which syndicatedImus‘s program.

A breach-of-contract complaint filed in state court in Manhattan by WWW.FlatSigned.com Inc., an Internet auction site and publisher of limited-edition books, states Imus and his New York-based station, WFAN-AM, were paid an unspecified amount to promote the sale in January 2007 of books autographed by the late president, who died in 2006.

Instead of reading the agreed-upon text for the spots, Imus “changed the language of the live read, which was completely contrary to the agreement,’ according to the complaint. Imus called the site “cheesy’ on the air and said “these bastards have been waiting for him to croak so they can unload these.’

Repeated Comments

Marc Held, a lawyer for Flatsigned, said his client purchased the radio promotions to advertise the sale of a limited edition of “President John F. Kennedy, Assassination Report of the Warren Commission’ about the presidential assassination. It included a new introduction by Ford before his death. The books were also autographed by the former president.

Flatsigned, which is based in Nashville, Tenn., currently features a picture book by Democrat Hillary Clinton called “Invitation to the White House’ a book, filled with color photographs, about life in the White House. It was autographed by the former First Lady.

The site complained to Imus about the first incident on Jan. 29, and Imus still made similar comments on the two following days, according to the complaint. After station management agreed that he would read the agreed-upon text, Imus said on the radio “Now that he’s flatlined, you go to Flatsigned.com.’

Flatsigned was offered and rejected 15 “make good’ spots to be aired for two weeks on WFAN during programs other thanImus‘s, according to the complaint. The site’s claims include libel, breach of contract and malicious intent to harm.

“We were harmed,’ Held said. “The sale of this book was harmed and Web traffic plunged as a result by this malicious statements made by the defendant’ he said. “He was given what he was supposed to say word for word, and he didn’t.’

Karen Mateo, a spokeswoman for CBS Radio, declined comment. Imus, who was hired by Las Vegas, Nevada-based Citadel Broadcasting Corp., also couldn’t be reached for comment. His new flagship station is WABC-AM in New York.

The case is FlatSigned Press, Inc. v. Infinity Broadcasting Corp, CBS Radio and Don Imus, case number 600205/2008, filed in New York Supreme Court (Manhattan).

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