CHICAGO (CN) - A Sun-Times Media newspaper defamed a businessman by calling him "a member of an intricate Rogaine theft ring," the man claims in court.
Plaintiff sued Sun Times Media in Cook County Court.
The plaintiff, 55, describes himself in the complaint as "a highly respected business executive, running the global division of a large, industry leading, employee-benefits company in the Chicagoland area."
He claims the Pioneer Press Northbrook Star, a Sun-Times newspaper, falsely reported on Aug. 12 that he had been arrested for trying to steal $309 worth of Rogaine, a hair restorer.
What actually happened, the man says in his complaint, is that he bought two defective packs of Gillette Fusion razor blades from a grocery store, and when he tried to return them, the assistant manager refused to refund his money.
The men argued, then the assistant manger threw the returned packages in the trash, "waved his hand dismissively at plaintiff and told plaintiff to leave the premises," according to the complaint.
"At that point, plaintiff assumed he was allowed to take new packages of razor blades from the store and proceeded to leave the store, with two new packages of the same razor blades, to replace the two defective packages the assistant manager had thrown away."
But store security stopped him and called the police, who cited him for retail theft, which charge was dismissed, plaintiff says.
The Pioneer Press Northbrook Star reported on the incident, and falsely reported that plaintiff was involved in a second incident - an attempt to steal $309 worth of Rogaine, according to the complaint.
In an online post, the Pioneer Press stated that a woman tried to steal seven packages of Rogaine, and "'When [an] employee demanded that she drop the bag, she did, but then jumped into the vehicle, which was driven away by another man, leaving plaintiff behind. He was released on a $1,500 cash bond,'" according to the complaint.
Plaintiff says he "was extremely upset that the Pioneer Press had erroneously reported that plaintiff was a member of an intricate Rogaine theft ring, and that plaintiff was arrested and released after posting a $1,500.00 cash bond, as both of these statements were patently false."
The man says his attorney, Purav Bhatt, spoke with the assistant general counsel of the Chicago Sun-Times, who said the false information posted on the Internet would be corrected, and would not be included in the next print edition.
However, "even though defendant changed the posting in its Pioneer Press Northbrook Star August 16th subscriber print edition, defendant did not alter or edit the original false and damaging posting on its Pioneer Press Northbrook Star Internet version of the edition," plaintiff claims.
He adds: "Since the publication of the false statements on the defendant's Pioneer Press Northbrook Star website, plaintiff has increasingly been subjected to much humiliation and ridicule. As more people have found out about the false statements on defendant's website, plaintiff began being humiliated and ridiculed as 'a member of the Rogaine Gang,' or as 'a member of a drive-away theft ring.'"
The plaintiff claims his "ability to work in his chosen profession has been severely diminished. ... As a result of defendant's false and defamatory statements on its Pioneer Press Northbrook Star website, plaintiff has lost hard-earned national and international, personal and professional respect and credibility that has taken a lifetime and career to build, as well as the opportunity to continue to further his business growth and market value, which are the lifeblood of his career."
The Northbrook Star's police blotter for Aug. 13 has been corrected.