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L.A. Times is sued by cartoonist over questioning of his blog post's accuracy

Ted Rall, a former freelance cartoonist for the Los Angeles Times, has filed a lawsuit alleging that the newspaper defamed him by questioning the accuracy of a blog post he wrote about being ticketed for jaywalking.

The suit, filed Monday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, also contends that The Times fired him unfairly.

Hillary Manning, a spokeswoman for The Times, said in a statement that Rall's allegations in the lawsuit were unfounded, adding: "The Times will defend itself vigorously against Mr. Rall's claims."

The disputed post was published May 11, 2015, on The Times' OpinionLA blog, accompanying one of his cartoons. Rall criticized a Los Angeles Police Department crackdown on jaywalking, and recalled when he was cited for jaywalking in 2001.

Rall wrote that a police officer threw him against a wall near Melrose Avenue and handcuffed him, sparking protests from "a couple of dozen passersby." Rall said the officer also threw his driver's license "into the sewer."

The LAPD challenged Rall's account. In a July 28 note to readers, Nicholas Goldberg, editor of The Times' editorial pages, said that evidence provided by the department, including the officer's audio recording of the incident, raises "serious questions about the accuracy" of the cartoonist's post.

Goldberg said Rall's work would no longer appear in The Times.

After Rall called for a retraction of the note and demanded that The Times reinstate him as a contributor, the newspaper reexamined the evidence and retained two experts to review the audio recording. In a second, more detailed explanation published Aug. 19, The Times said it found no basis to change its earlier decision.

In his lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, Rall challenged The Times' findings and questioned the authenticity of the audio recording.

Rall is represented by Carney R. Shegerian, whose firm also represented former Times sports columnist T.J. Simers in an age- and disability-discrimination lawsuit against The Times. Simers was awarded more than $7 million in damages, which were later set aside. The case is now on appeal.

Twitter: MattHjourno


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A version of this article appeared in print on March 16, 2016, in the News section of the Los Angeles Times with the headline "Cartoonist sues L.A. Times - Ted Rall's suit comes after the paper questioned a blog post's accuracy." — Today's paperToday's paper | Subscribe