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Banker Alleging Libel Sues Time, Web Firms

January 30, 1998|(Karen Kaplan)

A Los Angeles banker has sued Time Inc., its World Wide Web site and three Internet service providers alleging libel over a Fortune magazine story that accused him of accepting bribes from Bruce McNall, the former Los Angeles Kings owner who is serving time in federal prison for charges relating to bank fraud. Thomas Kempf, president of First Los Angeles Bank, says in his lawsuit that the two-page story, published in February, is "libelous on its face." In addition to Time, which is Fortune's publisher, Kempf is suing the reporter and editor who worked on the story; Time New Media, which operates a Web site; and online service providers Earthlink Network, America Online and Prodigy Services. The suit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, accuses the Internet companies of "publishing" the allegedly libelous story and seeks $30 million in damages. But Jim Jenal, co-founder of the Internet law practice group at O'Melveny & Myers in Los Angeles, said the Communications Decency Act protects Internet service providers and Web sites against liability in libel cases involving content created by other parties. Shares of Time parent company Time Warner Inc. rose $1.50 to $114 Thursday on the NYSE.

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