After an Orange County Superior Court judge ruled earlier this year there was no merit in the attempt by ABC News to kill a libel lawsuit about a sensational, 2011 Internet-dating-scam broadcast by 20/20, the network has agreed to settle with the outraged plaintiff.
That news is according to court documents filed today and obtained by OC Weekly in the case in which a Colorado man sued the network, then-ABC host Chris Cuomo and Kelley Cahill, a California woman who alleged on the broadcast that she'd been victimized in a dating scam.
Lawyers for ABC and Cuomo strenuously argued they did not libel David Williams in the broadcast, but in March, Judge Franz E. Miller ruled the plaintiff's case had a legitimate argument and a jury should decide if he'd been unfairly smeared.
Miller ruled there was decent evidence the news network "negligently propelled an all-too-common, nasty romantic breakup into a national crime story."
Cuomo and ABC appealed Miller's determinations, but they decided to settle the case for undisclosed terms before a three-justice panel at the California Court of Appeal based in Santa Ana could make a ruling.
WIlliams' case against Cahill, his bitter ex-girlfriend, remains active, according to court records.
ABC's show highlighted Internet con artists aiming to steal money but, in my view, wrongly included a misreported segment about Williams, who clearly did not engage in any criminal activity.
Contacted for comment, the plaintiff's veteran, Beverly Hills lawyer, Alexander Rufus-Isaacs, would only say, "[Williams] just settled the case with ABC."
No terms of the deal were revealed in court filings.
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A notable television journalist, Cuomo--son of a former New York governor (Mario Cuomo) and brother to that state's current chief executive (Andrew Cuomo)--left ABC News shortly after the lawsuit was filed and now works as a host at CNN.