R.I. Supreme Court Upholds Dismissal Of Defamation Suit Against WPRO, Dan Yorke, Providence Journal
July 5, 2012 at 12:14 PM (PT)
The RHODE ISLAND Supreme Court has upheld a Superior Court ruling dismissing a libel and slander suit brought by restaurateur ROBERT I. BURKE against CITADEL BROADCASTING (now CUMULUS), Talk WPRO-A-WEAN-F/PROVIDENCE host DAN YORKE, the PROVIDENCE JOURNAL, and JOURNAL reporter KATHERINE GREGG, reports the JOURNAL. A separate complaint for breach of contract against CITADEL has been remanded to Superior Court because the initial ruling failed to definitively rule on it.
BURKE complained that GREGG's story on a 2009 ST. PATRICK'S DAY political roast hosted by BURKE and then-State House Speaker WILLIAM J. MURPHY (the "MURPHY's Law Luncheon") at BURKE's FEDERAL RESERVE restaurant, and the decision to keep the roast's contents off the record, prompted YORKE to perform what Associate Justice FRANCIS X. FLAHERTY called "an acrimonious and childish on-air rant" and "a series of crude and disparaging remarks" that nevertheless did not rise to the level of actionable broadcast libel. YORKE called BURKE a "piece of garbage" and "stupid... (a) punk, mob-type actor" during his show.
The contract issue came about from BURKE's BOEA and FOOD AND BEVERAGE CORP. being advertisers on WPRO; the case was remanded for one specific count of the complaint that the motion justice did not address.