Pro wrestling organization to receive 3.5 million dollars in settlement of defamation suit.
FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida – A pro wrestling organization will receive 3.5 million dollars from a television watchdog group that published claims that a boy was imitating wrestlers when he killed a friend, a newspaper reported.
In the settlement of a federal lawsuit, World Wrestling Entertainment, formerly the World Wrestling Federation, will also receive an apology from Jim Lewis, the attorney who represented Lionel Tate during the boy’s murder trial last year, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported in Thursday’s editions.
Lewis had argued that Tate, then 12, was imitating WWF wrestlers when he accidentally killed 6-year-old Tiffany Eunick in 1999. The defense failed, and Tate was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.
The Parents Television Council repeated Lewis’ allegations in asking companies not to advertise with WWE. It also put out a videotape blaming the company for Tiffany’s death.
The suit also sought millions from Lewis, but the settlement requires only his apology.
“Jim was not trying to hurt anyone’s feelings, he was just trying to defend a 12-year-old boy,” Robert Buschel, his attorney, told the Sun-Sentinel.
Jerry McDevitt, the WWE’s attorney, confirmed the terms of the settlement to the Sun-Sentinel but said the Stamford, Connecticut, corporation would not discuss it until Monday.
Parents Television Council spokeswoman Elizabeth Baggett told the paper the Los Angeles-based organization was pleased the lawsuit was resolved.