Court reinstates defamation suit against Liddy

July 30, 1999|By Candus Thomson | Candus Thomson,SUN STAFF

A federal appeals court has reversed the decision of a Baltimore judge and reinstated a $5 million defamation lawsuit against Watergate conspirator G. Gordon Liddy for saying a woman procured prostitutes for Democratic politicians.

Ida Maxwell Wells is a private figure and therefore is entitled to a trial on her claim that Liddy's remarks damaged her reputation, a unanimous three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday.

The decision reversed a ruling by U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz, who said last year that Wells was an involuntary public figure. She was unable to prove Liddy acted with "actual malice," Motz ruled in throwing out the lawsuit.

In the suit, originally filed in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, Wells said Liddy damaged her reputation by giving air time to a Watergate "prostitution theory" created by a felon who is a mental patient.

On his syndicated radio show, which is on WJFK-AM in Baltimore, Liddy "repeatedly and continuously" called Wells "a procurer of prostitutes" in her job as a Democratic National Committee administrative aide, the lawsuit said.

Wells was a teaching assistant at Louisiana State University at the time she filed the suit.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Pub Date: 7/30/99

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