Judge rules in favor of Beasley Broadcasting in Joe Scott/K-Rock case

Joe Scott pictured in a Daily News file photo.

Joe Scott pictured in a Daily News file photo.

— A judge on Tuesday ruled in favor of a Naples broadcasting company in a lawsuit over radio station 96 K-Rock and the on-air trash-talking of its former shock jock, Joe Scott.

Lee Circuit Judge Christine Greider entered a verdict in favor of Beasley Broadcasting Group shortly after 9 a.m. Tuesday, precluding jury deliberation in the case. Beasley moved for the verdict on Friday, after the fourth day of trial and the conclusion of the plaintiff’s case.

Greider told attorneys that a lack of provable damages required her to find for Beasley before the company began its defense, scheduled for Tuesday.

“No evidence or testimony has been offered to establish the plaintiff is entitled to recover damages,” she said.

Plaintiff Patti Davis, 50, Scott’s former girlfriend and the target of his on-air rants in 2005, showed little reaction at the announcement. Yet, in an unusual scene after Greider left the bench, Davis hugged and thanked jurors who remained behind.

The five jurors, all women, gathered around Davis to express sympathies. Several said they were angry they couldn’t deliver a verdict.

Davis said their consolation proved that “normal, regular people” understood her case.

“I think that the trial court was always favored to the defendant,” she said.

Beasley attorney Kelley Geraghty Price disputed any favoritism and said Greider’s decision was justified.

“It was what we wanted — quite frankly, what we expected,” she said.

Greider’s decision pushes the case toward its next stage, appeal. In a written statement, Davis attorney William Thompson Jr. said he will forward the case to the 2nd District Court of Appeal in Lakeland “on the sole issue of fundamental denial of due process and trial by jury.”

Davis sought compensatory damages for Scott’s on-air rants during a period in May 2005, after K-Rock rehired the troubled disc jockey on the heels of his release from drug rehabilitation.

Davis claimed Beasley was negligent in hiring and retaining the mercurial Scott, and she claimed his statements violated her right to privacy.

Beasley has contended that it held Scott to strict policies.

The company fired him in March 2006 after the disc jockey stopped working with his doctors. Scott died in November of the same year. He was 46 years old.

The broadcasts central to the trial largely went unheard by jurors, after Greider determined they could not be authenticated.

Thompson was permitted to play about a dozen of the recordings through authentication by radio personality Gentry Odom, who appeared on those shows with Scott. A half-dozen more were played when Davis testified.

In those recordings, Scott referred to Davis by name, as “her, she” or “my ex-girlfriend,” and he called her a “stark, raving (expletive)” and an “infection” that needs to be “killed.”

In testimony, Davis described hearing Scott call her a thief, a slut and a prostitute during on-air rants. She said she struggled to concentrate on her new job as a real estate agent, was forced to use anti-depressants, and developed a rash on her face due to the stress.

Geider struck punitive damages from the case before it went to trial. Friday’s ruling held that Davis never sufficiently proved the damages she claimed.

“Where there is no proof of damages, there can be no recovery,” she said. “In this case, there has been no such proof. In making this finding, I have not considered the credibility of the witnesses or the evidence, because there was no evidence of damages. “

In a responding proffer, or submission of proof made for the record, Thompson decried the judge’s decision, claiming that any lack of evidence was due to her repeated denials of admission.

“I have no evidence because your honor refused to honor our discovery,” he said.

Five women and one man comprised the jury. The man left the courtroom after Greider dismissed the panel, but the women remained.

As an incredulous Price looked on, they gathered around Davis after the judge left the bench.

One, 38-year-old Christy Gale, said the case amounted to whether Davis was disrespected on air. She had been, Gale said, and the juror was upset she wouldn’t be able to help shape a verdict.

“We’re upset to have it out of our hands,” she said.

Another juror, Joanne Huffman, said she had already decided for Davis, despite not hearing the defense’s side. She said she believed the panel was split, either 4-2 or 5-1, with the majority leaning toward Davis.

Huffman told Davis she would have awarded $2 million in damages.

Jurors are repeatedly advised not to discuss a case before deliberation. In this case, their opinions are not part of the official record and cannot be made part of the case.

The next decision in the case will be made by an appeals panel.

© 2011 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Stories

Comments » 1

silverback writes:

Bad decision.

Beasley pushes decency for bucks from the unwashed.

Poor Beasley, "They told him to stop" but they were powerless.

Garbage!

Share your thoughts

Comments are the sole responsibility of the person posting them. You agree not to post comments that are off topic, defamatory, obscene, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be banned. Click here for our full user agreement.

Comments can be shared on Facebook and Yahoo!. Add both options by connecting your profiles.

Features