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CNN: Don Imus Lawsuit

CNN: Marc Held, Partner, Held & Hines, LLP Quoted Re: Don Imus Lawsuit

NEW YORK (CNN) — Radio show host Don Imus is the target of a lawsuit saying he undercut advertisements about a book by President Gerald Ford by making disparaging comments about it and the company that published it.

The lawsuit alleges Don Imus made fun of the advertiser and President Ford while reading a book ad.

The book dealt with the Warren Commission’s investigation of the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Flatsigned Press Inc. paid for Don Imus to read the advertisement six times on his “Imus in the Morning” show over the last three days of January 2007, the publishing firm’s lawsuit says.

Although Imus was paid to read the on-air advertisement word-for-word, “he deviated, and in his deviation he made disparaging comments about the advertiser and President Ford himself, for that matter,” said Marc Held, attorney for Flatsigned Press.

The suit — filed Wednesday in New York Supreme Court in Manhattan — seeks $4 million in damages on three charges: Breach of contract, product disparagement and trade libel.

In the book, Ford “admits, for the first time, the CIA destroyed documents,” said Tim Miller, president of Flatsigned Press.

“This is the pride of my life,” he said. “It was the first book that my publishing company ever published. It was supposed to be the cornerstone of the company.”

Even after being warned by officials at CBS to stop, Imus continued to make fun of the book, according to Held.

Imus called the advertisers “bastards,” and accused them of “waiting for [Ford] to croak,” the lawsuit alleges. Ford died in December of 2006.

Among the lawsuit’s allegations is that Imus told his listeners, “Now that Ford has flatlined, you can go to Flatsigned.com.”

Miller said ” ‘flatlined’ was on people’s brains” and Imus’ joke ultimately “soiled the brand.”

In another example, the lawsuit says Imus joked about a line in the ad referring to the books having been hand-signed by President Ford, asking how else Ford would have signed the books — “with his foot?”

Held and Miller said the negative comments Imus made adversely affected the book’s sales.

“We had millions of [Web site] hits a year,” Miller said. “And on the day before Imus our Web site hits were record-breaking, and after Imus the sales of the books went almost to zero.”

Miller said he was shocked by Imus’ disrespectful comments.

“One of the things they tried to use against me was that I should have known he makes jokes about things. But I never knew he would make fun of an advertiser or Ford,” he said.

Imus’ lawyer, Martin Gorbus, said the lawsuit “is without merit, and it will be dismissed.”

Karen Mateo, the vice president of communications for CBS, said, “We decline to comment.”

Imus returned to the airwaves with a syndicated show based in New York in December, eight months after he was fired by CBS for making racial on-air comments about members of the Rutgers University women’s basketball team.

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