After a three-week trial, a Fairfax County, Va., jury found WJLA-TV Washington liable for $2.5 million in damages to a Virginia orthopedist who said he had been defamed by a station report. According to newspaper reports from the trial, Dr. Stephen Levin's lawyers argued that his stretching and muscle manipulation treatment was medically recognized and his patients consented. In making the seven-figure award, the jury reportedly found that the station knew the defamatory statements were false and acted recklessly and with disregard for the truth. The station plans to appeal. In fact, the station may have been penalized more because of the promos than because the story. Even WJLA-TV reporters who worked on the story would not say the promos were fair. Station attorneys suggested the jury was confused over a procedure that might be appropriate when performed by an obstetrician-gynocologist to relieve back spasms but not when performed by Levin.
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