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Home / Verdicts & Settlements / Newspaper defamed school principal and his son, jury finds – $3,000,000 Verdict

Newspaper defamed school principal and his son, jury finds – $3,000,000 Verdict

On Dec. 18, 2009, The Virginian-Pilot published a news article, authored by Louis Hansen, about Phillip Webb, a public school assistant principal, and his son, a student in the same school system. Plaintiff alleged the defendant newspaper falsely implied that he had improperly used his position to obtain preferential treatment for his student son.

In fact, the plaintiff had not sought or obtained any preferential treatment for his son. In addition, the article gratuitously linked the father to numerous unflattering statements about the son, which statements had previously yielded a $5,000,000 jury verdict against the newspaper in favor of the son. On May 24, 2012, the jury returned a verdict for Webb, awarding him $3,000,000 after deliberating for just over an hour. The defendant had made no settlement offer before or during either trial. The plaintiff’s damages include damage to reputation, loss of standing in the community, pain, embarrassment, humiliation and mental suffering.

[12-T-098]

Type of action: Defamation
Injuries alleged: Damage to reputation, loss of standing in the community, pain, embarrassment, humiliation and mental suffering
Name of case: Webb v. Virginian-Pilot Media Companies LLC
Court: Chesapeake Circuit Court
Case no.: CL10-2933
Tried before: Jury
Judge: Randall D. Smith
Date: May 24, 2012
Verdict or settlement: Verdict
Amount: $3,000,000
Attorneys for plaintiff: Jeremiah A. Denton, Vivile R. Dietrich and Rhiannon M. Jordan, Virginia Beach
Attorneys for defendant: Conrad M. Shumadine and Brett A. Spain, Norfolk

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