Wednesday, January 16, 2008

General's Lawsuit Tossed

In today's Herald. Sorry, I had to post it.

Ex-general's suit against radio host tossed

Martha Flores, a popular Spanish-language radio host, will not have to respond to a lawsuit filed in federal court in Miami late last year charging she violated the rights of a former Cuban general exiled in Miami.

U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro dismissed the case against Flores filed on behalf of Rafael del Pino.

The former general, 67, dramatically defected to the United States with his family in a stolen Cessna in 1987.

Del Pino, who is embroiled in a bitter feud with some exiles over his views on negotiating with Cuba, sued Flores and others for ''the harm he has suffered from a series of violent threats and intimidation'' by local television and radio personalities and Bay of Pigs veterans, all with the ''intent of chilling'' his First Amendment Rights, his suit claimed.

The judge's 13-page order said Flores expressed an opinion about Del Pino on the air but did not take any action against him.

The lawsuit claimed that during her show, La Noche y Usted, on Sept. 12, Flores declared ''openly on her show that del Pino should be executed'' on Calle Ocho in Little Havana.

A review of a recording of the show confirmed the defense's claim that a caller to the program made the statement -- not Flores -- and that the caller was reprimanded by one of Flores' studio guests.

In dismissing the case against Flores, the judge said the radio host could not be accused of depriving del Pino of any constitutional right of free expression because she is a private citizen, not acting on behalf of a government.

''The purpose of this lawsuit was to chill the freedom of expression of Martha Flores,'' said Miguel A. De Grandy, one of her attorneys. ``It's unjust and in bad taste for the plaintiff to have used First Amendment rights to prohibit the freedom of expression of others.''


They are waiting to hear if the case against them will be dismissed for being frivolous. All have filed motions requesting it. The judge is expected to rule soon.

Such a move by the judge could spell financial trouble for del Pino.

Flores' attorneys have asked the judge to make the former general pay attorney fees.

''The fees owed could be a significant amount,'' said Michael Pancier, another attorney representing Flores.

Del Pino's attorney, Richard Jay Burton, couldn't be reached for comment Monday.


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