Billboards have popped up along Los Angeles area freeways apparently soliciting for a class-action lawsuit against the L.A. Times, with the text "illegally wire-tapped" and a lawyer's name. There's one beside the northbound 405 at Howard Hughes Drive, and this one that Times' pressman-blogger Ed Padgett snapped beside the 605 in Baldwin Park. Times employees were filled in this afternoon in an all-staff email from president and chief operating officer Kathy Thomson.
Sent: Thursday, October 20, 2011 4:11 PM
Some of you may have noticed over the last week that billboards have sprung up along freeways around Los Angeles accusing The Times of wiretapping and fraud. As you know, ethics and integrity are core values that we uphold every day. We do not engage in wiretapping and fraud as the billboards allege. They appear to be placed by an attorney who recently filed a lawsuit against one of our columnists who has written about 1-800-Get-Thin, its principals and their Lap-Band surgery centers. Notably, the lawsuit does not allege either wiretapping or fraud, as suggested by the billboards. Related lawsuits previously filed against The Times and its employees have been thrown out of court. We are confident that this latest, equally meritless lawsuit will also be thrown out.
If you receive any inquiries, please direct them to Karlene Goller and Nancy Sullivan.
Goller is the Times' lawyer, Sullivan the paper's flack. The suit appears to allege that Business columnist Michael Hiltzik taped a phone interview without consent. Pandora Young at Fishbowl LA has more background.
* Update: Times runs a story.