Jury: ‘NY Times’ Defamed Biz

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(AP) A business was defamed when The New York Times used the pharmaceutical company’s Web site to illustrate a story on illegal conduct, but the case doesn’t warrant financial damages, a federal jury ruled.

Franklin Prescriptions Co. said it was the victim of “defamation by implication” when the Times used a portion of its Web site to illustrate an Oct. 25, 2000, story headlined “A Web Bazaar Turns Into a Pharmaceutical Free-for-All.”

Franklin doesn’t participate in any of the illegal activities discussed in the article, said George Bochetto, a lawyer representing the company. It uses its site only for advertising purposes.

The most damaging part of the story was a list of “safety tips” published next to the graphic that warned readers to avoid the Web sites of companies that don’t list a name and address, Bochetto said. Franklin’s site lists both.

The jury on Monday found that the article contained a “defamatory implication” about Franklin, that readers would understand the implication and that the implication was “substantially false.” It also found that the Times “acted intentionally, reckless or negligently.”

But Franklin did not deserve damages because it had not suffered any “actual harm that was substantially caused by the article,” the jury said.

“How you can find that they (Franklin) were defamed by The New York Times, which has a million readers, and find that they aren’t entitled to any damages is beyond me,” Bochetto said.

Times attorney Elizabeth K. Ainslie said she was “disappointed” in some of the jury’s findings, but that the issue of damages was one that she was “always more confident about.”

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