‘Times-Picayune’ Sued for Defamation

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(AP) A former New Orleans lawyer has filed lawsuits in state and federal courts against New Orleans’ daily newspaper, two of its reporters, and the chief counsel for the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board.

Nicolas Estiverne who once ran for civil court judge in Orleans Parish and twice ran for president of Haiti says they defamed him and caused him public humiliation and embarrassment in a May story about a theft case in which he later pleaded guilty.

Estiverne filed the lawsuits in Orleans Parish Civil District Court and in U.S. District Court.

A story published May 31 by the newspaper, The Times-Picayune, reported that Estiverne was facing trial on one count of exploitation of the infirm for allegedly taking over the finances of an elderly and ailing woman in 1997 and draining $122,000 from her accounts by the time she died in 1999.

In his lawsuit targeting the newspaper and reporters Keith O’Brien and Susan Finch, Estiverne claims that the newspaper’s story was false, and that Charles Plattsmier, the chief disciplinary counsel, wrongly released board records to The Times-Picayune and slandered him with statements made to reporters. Estiverne also makes claims for violation of privacy, infliction of mental distress, defamation, malicious publication and public humiliation and embarrassment.

On July 25, Estiverne pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft, averting trial on the felony charge. Criminal District Judge Ben Willard gave Estiverne a suspended six-month sentence and two years probation and ordered him to make restitution in an amount to be determined in a civil trial.

Plattsmeier has filed papers stating that he should be dismissed from the federal case, claiming immunity from such legal actions as attorney for the disciplinary board.

The Times-Picayune declined comment on the suit.

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