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Saturday, July 30, 2005
 
Update on Bob Lobel's Libel Suit against Darby Conley

Two months ago, we detailed CBS-4 sportscaster Bob Lobel's libel suit against syndicated cartoonist Darby Conley, who is best known for his "Get Fuzzy" cartoon. The lawsuit arose after Conley published a controversial Get Fuzzy cartoon, which appeared in over 450 New England newspapers. The cartoon featured a dog, cat, and their owner watching Lobel on TV, and the dog says "Is this sportscaster . . . drunk?," to which the owner replies, "Lobel? Who knows?," leading the cat and owner to get into argument, with the dog finally saying, "Guys, guys! How can you fight while there's a drunk guy on TV?" Conley's co-defendants in the suit are United Feature Syndicate and the New Bedford Standard-Times.

In an July interview with Boston Magazine, Lobel claimed that his unique, yet largely endearing on-air style is primarily the result of attention deficit disorder. He also exclaimed: "I don't even drink. I used to. I used to go out between shows, but that was 15 years ago . . . There are times I slur my words. There are times I make mistakes, but it's not because I'm drunk."

According to Attorney David Frank, news editor of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly and co-host of Sporting News Radio's "Sports Court" program (which airs this Sunday at 5:00 PM in Boston -- live on-line feed), a settlement may be forthcoming. In a recent article in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly (subscription), Frank noted that attorneys for the parties are constructively working towards a mutually-acceptable agreement.

If Lobel v. Conley settles, it will be interesting to see how much Lobel receives. What do you think would be fair compensation for being the victim of these offensive cartoon animals, assuming you were New England's most recognizable--and highest paid--sportscaster, and assuming the cartoon appeared all over New England? Unfortunately, I have not found the amount of damages that Lobel is seeking, although if you know that, shoot me an e-mail at mmccann@law.harvard.edu. For now, we'll just have to speculate.





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