Going after one if its biggest critics, World Wrestling Federation Entertainment Inc. filed a lawsuit in U. S. District Court in New York against conservative activist L. Brent Bozell III for conspiring to damage the WWF with a pattern of "unlawful threats, intimidation, coercion, deception and flat-out lies."
The WWFE seeks relief and damages from what it claims as a "systematic campaign of slanderous and tortuous activities" orchestrated by Bozell and his conservative group Parents Television Council. The group last December lobbied WWF advertisers to take a closer look at the often-lewd antics aired by the wrestling group.
As a result, several advertisers, including AT&T Corp. and candy maker Mars Inc., pulled their advertising from UPN's
The complaint sites several examples of Bozell's misappropriations toward the WWFE, including concocting a false list of advertisers Bozell claims have pulled their support from WWF programming; threatening to denounce dozens of targeted advertisers of WWFE as not being "family friendly," and raising funds from the public through solicitations using the same false, malicious and fraudulent statements about WWFE.
"L. Brent Bozell III uses a consistent pattern of lies, self-concocted hoaxes, threats and intimidation to try to destroy WWFE's business and intimidate WWFE's advertisers, sponsors, licensees and retailers," said Jerry S. McDevitt, lead trial counsel for WWFE and partner with Kirkpatrick & Lockhart, in a press release. "We intend to stop it."
Bozell would not comment on the lawsuit, but did say in a statement that WWFE's allegations in its press release about the lawsuit "are completely without merit."
He added that the company's attorneys are considering a possible "counter-claim for libel."
The lawsuit comes on the heels of a settlement of a lawsuit filed by the members of the family of Owen Hart,
a professional wrestler, whose accidental death occurred while performing under contract with the company. Under the terms of the agreement, the WWFE will receive a full release from any further liability in the case.