Lawyer sues Annapolis newspaper Greiber says articles defamed him, caused loss of clients

$8 million in damages asked

November 18, 1998|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

A former Republican political candidate with ties to outgoing County Executive John G. Gary has filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the Capital, claiming the Annapolis newspaper defamed him.

In the suit, Annapolis lawyer John R. Greiber charges that starting in 1997, the Capital tried to smear him, costing him clients and humiliating him.

Greiber, who filed the suit this week in county Circuit Court, is seeking $3 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages.

Greiber was the losing candidate for Anne Arundel County state's attorney in 1994, the same year Gary, also a Republican, won the executive's race.

After the election, Greiber and a law firm he was with were hired by the county for legal work, amid criticisms of cronyism. Gary lost his bid for re-election this month.

Greiber charges in the suit that an editorial called him an "unqualified ally" to whom Gary "continues to feed" county work, implying that he needed to be given the work. He charges that a Capital news story incorrectly reported how much he probably would be paid this year by the Recreational Facilities Revenue Authority, a nonprofit corporation set up by the county.

In the suit, Greiber charges that the newspaper's editors are so biased against him that last year they tried to force a reporter to write a story that she was unable to substantiate, but that she quit instead.

"We have no comment," said Edward Casey, executive editor of the Capital.

Neither Greiber nor his lawyers returned telephone messages yesterday.

In 1995, the Gary administration fired a law firm that specializes in insurance cases in favor of a firm that included Greiber to handle a lawsuit over who should pay for the Glen Burnie landfill cleanup.

The Gary administration hired the firm at which Greiber then worked to replace former U.S. Sen. Joseph D. Tydings, although Tydings had successfully argued a precedent-setting case that allowed counties to recover such costs from insurers.

Tydings represented Anne Arundel in a case to collect cleanup costs from seven insurance companies, but in replacing Tydings, county officials said that Council, Baradel, Kosmerl & Nolan had expertise in environmental issues and could handle the case.

Also in 1995, Gary paid Greiber and a private investigator about $10,000 to probe allegations of criminal conspiracy in the administration of County Executive O. James Lighthizer, Gary's predecessor, in an effort to sink the 1989 pension enhancements for top county officials.

Greiber received the money while representing the Anne Arundel Taxpayer's Association in a lawsuit filed against the county over the same pension issue.

Over the past year, Greiber did some work for the recreation authority at no charge. County officials said he was paid about $1,250 after that.

Accompanying the lawsuit is a statement from Joseph C. Goulden, a former director of media analysis for the conservative media watchdog organization Accuracy in Media.

Goulden wrote that the Sept. 20, 1997, editorial "clearly defames and libels" Greiber by maligning his reputation.

Pub Date: 11/18/98

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