WOODLAND, Calif. (CN) - A producer for CBS affiliate KOVR-TV Channel 13 aired a defamatory newscast portraying legal conservator Carolyn Young as having hijacked an elderly woman's life, Young claims in Yolo County Court.
She claims that if producer Dave Clegren had simply bothered to look at court records or talk to a few people involved in the case, he would have realized that Young had been trying to protect a woman with serious memory problems from the undue influence of a manipulative daughter.
Young claims Clegren showed up unannounced at her office for an interview, and began asking questions about her representation of Mary Jane Mann.
Clegren claimed to have spent "hours" talking to Mann and her daughter, Carol Kelly, and appeared to be "biased and hostile" toward Young from the outset, the plaintiff says.
Young says she carefully explained the facts and evidence, including Kelly's alleged past financial abuse of her elderly father and aunt, and various expert medical opinions documenting Mann's "obvious memory disorder." Mann purportedly forgot that she had written a notarized letter to her bank stating that Kelly "is very skilled in making documents and signing my signature."
Young also encouraged Clegren to talk to Mann's court-appointed attorney, the staff at Adult Protective Services, The Geriatric Network, and Mann's other daughter, Monika Mann - all of whom supported the conservatorship, according to Young.
But when Channel 13 broadcast the story on Feb. 27 and 28, 2008, the defendants "made the need for a temporary conservatorship seem absurd," the lawsuit claims, and even called the story "A Life Hijacked."
The defendants allegedly reported: "But nothing in Mary Jane's record indicates she's incompetent;" "she has a track record of solid competence;" "she is of 'solid competence;'" and "her doctors have tested her and certified she's sound."
"[W]hen Defendants falsely published, 'Nothing in (Mann's) record indicates she is incompetent,' Defendants had in their hands documents that outlined numerous examples of Mrs. Mann's confusion and 'incredibly apparent' memory loss, her memory disorder and possibility of cognitive impairment," the lawsuit claims.
"The only logical explanation for Defendants ignoring these and other relevant facts is that it was Defendants' malicious goal to bury the truth because the truth was inconsistent with their planned sensational story, or they picked a side of the dispute before they gathered all the evidence, or even talked to the other side."
The plaintiff seeks actual and punitive damages. She is represented by Christopher Whelan.
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