Matt Glover, Prince Glover Hayes Partner, is Serving as Local Counsel on Lawsuit Against The New York Times
June 5, 2023, 1:59pm
PGH partner, Matt Glover, is serving as local counsel on a lawsuit against The New York Times. Matt was brought into the lawsuit by Stephen P. New of New, Taylor and Associates in Beckley, West Virginia. The lawsuit was brought on behalf of Kai Spears, a University of Alabama freshman and a member of the UA Men’s Basketball team. The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama. It alleges that the defendant, The New York Times Company, failed to use reasonable care in publishing and disseminating untrue statements regarding Plaintiff Spears’ presence at the scene where Jamea Harris was killed in the early morning hours of January 15, 2023.
According to facts alleged in the complaint, a New York Times reporter approached Spears on March 15, 2023 and asked, “the night of the shooting, when you were in Brandon Miller’s car, were you scared when the shots were fired?” Mr. Spears’ was taken aback and simply responded, “no comment,” as per guidance from the UA Department of Athletics. In fact, Mr. Spears was not at the scene of the crime. An affidavit, filed as an exhibit to the complaint, traces Mr. Spears’ whereabouts starting at approximately 6:00 PM on the evening of January 14th. He and his friends, including Dylan Serafini who signed the affidavit, got into Mr. Serafini’s car and returned to Bryant Hall from Moe’s Barbecue at approximately 1:40 AM, January 15th. At 1:48 AM, Mr. Spears facetimed his friend Jaden Bradley from the Bryant Hall parking lot to see where Bradley and Brandon Miller had ended up going out. Mr. Bradley was upset and showed Spears on facetime Mr. Miller’s windshield with bullet holes. This timeline clearly shows that Kai Spears was not at the scene of the crime. Furthermore, the complaint alleges that Mr. Spears was interviewed by Tuscaloosa police at 4 PM January 15th, as were all the basketball players who were out the previous night.
The police investigation conclusively established that Spears was not present at the time of the shooting. However, at approximately 8 PM, March 15th, 2023, Defendant New York Times published and disseminated an article that made statements that Spears was present at the time of the subject shooting. The complaint contends these statements by the Defendant regarding the presence of Spears were untrue and demonstrably false. The Defendant was advised by UA representatives, Mr. Spears and Mr. Spears’ father that the statements were untrue. Counsel for Mr. Spears made a written demand upon the Defendant for a public retraction, but the Defendant failed to retract the statements by the requested March 25, 2023 date. Thereafter, these untrue statements were re-published by several media outlets, thereby thrusting Mr. Spears into nationwide news without any intention on his part of obtaining publicity regarding the death of Ms. Harris.
The actions of Defendant New York Times have caused Mr. Spears severe emotional distress as his life has been disrupted by the untrue statements linking him to a criminal event. The complaint contains counts of Defamation/Libel and False Light Invasion of Privacy. Mr. Spears is asking for compensatory and punitive damages, attorney’s fees and costs and any further relief the Court deems proper.