Jury finds in favor of Los Angeles radio talk show host

Posted: Wednesday, February 06, 2002

JUNEAU (AP) -- A jury Tuesday found that a Los Angeles radio talk show host did not intentionally injure a Juneau woman -- or invade her privacy -- with comments he made about her on his show.

Following the verdict, Tom Leykis told reporters that the jury upheld his right to free speech.

''This is a victory for the first amendment and against small town ambulance chasers across America,'' he said.

Karen Carpenter alleged that she suffered emotional and financial losses after Leykis derided her with lewd remarks on the nationally syndicated Tom Leykis Show.

The show was pulled off the air in Juneau after Carpenter and others complained about its content. On the last day it aired in July of 1998, Leykis read a letter she'd written to the local station and taunted her, calling her a moron and a jerk and playing the sound of a vibrator while suggesting that she needed sex.

A listener from Juneau also gave out her fax number over the air.

Carpenter said she felt threatened and humiliated and developed severe anxiety and depression. She brought a civil suit against Leykis and the Los Angeles area production company, Westwood One.

A jury began deliberating Monday afternoon on Carpenters three legal claims and her request for punitive damages. They were asked if Leykis and Westwood One intentionally inflicted emotional distress and invaded Carpenters privacy. They also were asked if Westwood One destroyed or concealed a tape recording of the show in question.

The jury found merit in only one claim, that the company destroyed or concealed the tape. They found that Leykis and Westwood One could be held accountable for punitive damages. However, the judge found that there was no legal basis for damages against Leykis.

The jury will meet again on Thursday to review punitive damages against Westwood One.

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