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Posts Tagged ‘Michael Hiltzik’

LA Times Says Wiretapping Claims Are Bogus

And despite what the recent crop of billboards say, the class action lawsuit being brought against a Los Angeles Times reporter makes no claims of wiretapping.

Instead, the suit alleges that business columnist Michael Hiltzik recorded telephone interviews with attorney Robert Silverman. LA Times spokesperson Nancy Sullivan says Hiltzik never recorded any such conversations, and that the case is without merit.

Silverman has a history of suing the paper without success, as the LAT noted in a post on L.A. Now:

The Times has published a series of articles and columns detailing the deaths of five patients after having Lap-Band surgery at centers affiliated with 1-800-GET-THIN.

Silverman has represented 1-800-GET-THIN and two of the people behind the campaign, Michael and Julian Omidi, in three lawsuits against The Times and its journalists. All three lawsuits were dismissed. The Omidis were ordered to pay The Times legal expenses in two of the cases.

Ed Padgett has the staff memo from LA Times CEO Kathy Thomson about the billboards.

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UPDATED: The LA Times Sued For Wiretapping?

LA Times pressman Ed Padgett spotted this billboard a couple days ago, and it left us scratching our heads.

When we think of wiretapping, it’s usually in the context of nefarious governments and James Bond-type antics. Is it possible our own hometown newspaper was illicitly eavesdropping on the conversations of unsuspecting citizens?

Um, no.

What the lawsuit alleges is that business columnist Michael Hiltzik recorded phone interviews with an on-the-record source, attorney Robert Silverman. It should be noted that it’s standard practice for journalists to record interviews, since most of us can’t type that fast.

But according to state wiretap law, both parties have to give consent for a phone conversation to be legally taped. Silverman alleges that he was taped without his consent.

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LA Times Responds to Latest 1-800-GET-THIN Complaint

Ahead of a scheduled August 1 hearing, the LA Times has filed a July 11 response to the latest accusations made in U.S. District Court by marketing company 1-800-GET-THIN LLC. Among the dozens of legal precedents cited by the newspaper’s attorneys are cases involving the New York Times, Miami Herald, the Chicago Tribune, and Hearst Corporation.

In a previous document footnote, the LA Times suggested that surgeon brothers Julian and Michael Omidi, who advertise their Beverly Hills lap-band weight loss procedure services through 1-800-GET-THIN, engage in “scorched-earth litigation” against anyone who criticizes their “surgery-mill business.” The July 11 main argument summary section put forth by Times attorneys begins as follows:

In its increasingly desperate bid to keep some lawsuit alive against the Times defendants, plaintiff is asking this court to permit it to file yet another amended complaint—this time, to add wholly frivolous anti-trust and RICO claims against the Times, reporter Stuart Pfeifer, and columnist Michael Hiltzik; and to drastically rewrite its baseless Lanham Act claims to allege the same convoluted “advertising conspiracy” theory that was already addressed in the parties’ briefing on defendants pending motion to dismiss… Their “Whack-a-Mole” legal strategy should be stopped…

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No Love Lost in Crazy LA Times Lawsuit

On February 14, 2010—Valentine’s Day—LA Times reporter Michael Hiltzik shared the first of several investigative pieces about a Beverly Hills outfit marketing lap-band gastric bypass under the easy-to-remember call-in number 1-800-Get-Thin. He ended the article with information about a woman who was charged $15,000 in advance on her credit card by TopSurgeons for surgery she says she never agreed to, forcing her to go to court to win back a $3,000 “cancellation fee.”

A year later, via a lawsuit filed against the LA Times July 1 in U.S. District Court, 1-800-GET-THIN LLC is making its own explosive allegations. Among the marketing company’s contentions is the charge that Hiltzik posed as other people to comment on his own articles on the LATimes.com website*:

On February 14, 2010, a “blogger” named “snapshots” published the following on LATimes.com: “Thank you for researching what could very well be a public health and personal financial risk to many…”

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LAT’s Staffers Win Society of American Business Editors and Writers Awards

The following is an LAT memo in full:

Colleagues:

Recognition for the outstanding work of our staff continues to roll in.

“Shedding Risk,” a three-part series by business reporters Lisa Girion, Michael Hiltzik and Dan Costello that ran last October, won a Best in Business award in the Projects category from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers.

Here’s what the judges said: “A highly informative, well written series on a subject that matters to everyone: health insurance. Excellent reporting shows how insurance companies are weeding out the policy holders who need help most in favor of helping the companies’ bottom line, understandable in a free enterprise system but harmful, even devastating to the folks excluded. Very timely in light of the current public debate about universal health care. Impact reported on public opinion and public policy.”

The series was enhanced by infographics prepared by Lorena Iniguez with the help of Wil Ramirez, and was edited by Bill Rempel and Marc Duvoisin.

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