Daly Sues Newspaper for Defamation

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- John Daly is suing The Florida Times-Union and its Web site, alleging he was defamed by a columnist who called him a thug who allegedly beats women.
 
Columnist Mike Freemans piece appeared during The Players Championship last spring. It discusses Dalys past and how fans continue to root for the former British Open and PGA champion who has battled problems with alcohol, weight and his temper.
 
Daly, 39, of Cordova, Tenn., is suing over statements that he is accused of smacking women around and that he has Thug Life qualifications and a rap sheet that would make R. Jay Soward look like a Backstreet Boy. Soward was drafted in 2000 as a first-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars. He was suspended for repeated violations of the National Football Leagues substance abuse policy.
 
The suit was filed July 26 in Duval County Circuit Court. The suit is asking for an unspecified amount in excess of $15,000 -- the minimum for filing a Circuit Court suit'and a jury trial.
 
Dalys attorney, Lydia Jones, of Phoenix, said, The statements in the Times-Union (column) were not true. We are pursuing the lawsuit vigorously and intend to seek punitive damages.
 
Times-Union editor Pat Yack defended Freeman and his March 25 column.
 
Its regrettable that Mr. Daly has taken this step. Mike Freeman is a fine journalist. We stand by his work and his column, Yack said.
 
The Times-Union and its Web site, Jacksonville.com, and their owners, Morris Publishing Group of Augusta, Ga., were named in the suit. Freeman is being sued personally.
 
On July 15, the newspaper ran a Note to Readers on the front page of the sports section, clarifying parts of the column.
 
The Times-Union said Daly was charged in a domestic disturbance involving his then-wife in 1992, pleaded guilty to harassment and was placed on probation. It also said references to Dalys substance abuse referred to his alcohol abuse and that a reference to basketball player Shawn Kemp, who has fathered several children out of wedlock, was not meant to suggest that Dalys three children were illegitimate.
 
But Dalys lawsuit says the note did not constitute a full and fair correction, apology or retraction.
 
Three of the lawsuits nine counts are in regard to Freemans column when it appeared in print and three more or for the same version posted on Jacksonville.com.
 
Two other counts allege intentional infliction of emotionally distress and that Daly was portrayed in a false light.
 
The final count alleges the newspaper was negligent when it hired Freeman in April 2004, because he had acknowledged lying on a job application to another newspaper.
 
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