Lawsuit targets Times, reporter

Published June 22, 2007

TALLAHASSEE - Former Seminole Booster president Don Reinhard has sued the Times Publishing Co. and a senior St. Petersburg Times reporter, accusing them of defamation and casting him in a "false light."

Reinhard's lawsuit, which was filed June 11 in Leon County Circuit Court, disputes information in a May 13 story by Lucy Morgan that detailed Reinhard's recent bankruptcy travails. Reinhard filed for bankruptcy just before an arbitration panel was set to consider the claims of dissatisfied investors in his investment company.

The suit alleges that Reinhard was put in a false light because the story said bankruptcy officials had determined Reinhard transferred assets to family members, which the suit says is not true. The suit also alleges a false light was cast on Reinhard because the story notes he was charged with aggravated battery, but it doesn't say the charges later were dropped.

George Rahdert, a Times attorney, said Reinhard is a public figure in Tallahassee and "any technical inaccuracy in the story was not the result of actual malice."

"It was interesting of him to suggest that the Times has damaged his reputation in Tallahassee, and we are assembling reputation witnesses, " Rahdert said. "We're going to thoroughly investigate his financial records to determine this degree of alleged inaccuracy."

The attorney who filed the lawsuit on behalf of Reinhard, William Owen of Tallahassee, did not return calls for comment.