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Business Claims Gannett Station Defamed It

JACKSONVILLE (CN) - A construction company claims a Gannett TV station defamed it by linking it to the case of a 7-year-old girl who was abducted and murdered. Vinson Design & Build claims First Coast News broadcast an Oct. 23, 2009 report that singled out Vinson as having worked on the young girl's home and having hired a registered sex offender.

Vinson accuses the defendants of "failing to report on any (other) sex offenders living/working in the area of Thompson's home ... [or] school," any other business that had "provided services to Somer Thompson and her family," or any other registered sex offenders living or working near Thompson's home. (Parentheses in complaint.)

It also claims the station broadcast the report from its property without permission.

Somer Thompson, 7, made national headlines when she was abducted from her Jacksonville-area community and later found dead in a Georgia landfill. The case remains unsolved.

Vinson also sued anchorwoman Jeannie Blaylock and reporter Jackelyn Barnard, claiming their report alleged a direct connection between Vinson and abduction.

Vinson claims the report damaged its reputation, and says that since then it has been "shunned by many persons with whom it had previous social or business relations."

Vinson is represented in Duval County Court by Gordon T. Nicoll.

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