DBR Defends Quote

The Dade County Bar Association was outraged by a Daily Business Review story by Forrest Norman about insurance fraud cases. In the April 16 article, Norman quoted the general counsel of an insurance company was quoted as saying:

"When we get cases in front of juries, we were like 80 percent successful. But now the judges don't let that happen. They either grant motions for summary judgment or they somehow take it away from the jury's discretion. I think the judges are being paid off, but I can't prove that." (I added the italics).

The quote came from Charles Grimsley, who works for United Automobile Insurance, which is trying to remove Judge Jacqueline Schwartz from its cases, claiming she is biased. Bar President Merrick L. Gross wrote the newspaper to complain that "the inclusion of an unsubstantiated quote directly attacking the integrity, independence and fairness of the trial judges of the Miami-Dade County Circuit and County Courts is reprehensible."

The Bar wasn't the only entity upset with Grimsley's words. The insurance company itself took out a full-page ad in the Daily Business Review saying the suggestion of bribery "does not remotely reflect the opinion of

United Automobile Insurance or any of its defense attorneys."

Grimsley admitted he said it, but also said he doesn't really believe any judges are being paid off. DBR held strong. Editor-in-Chief David Lyons was quoted in Friday's newspaper about the fallout saying

It is not the role of the news media to censor the comments of newsmakers, particularly those of individuals who are at the center of a controversy. As general counsel of United Auto Insurance, Charles Grimsley is one of those individuals. His comments were highly newsworthy and placed in the context of his company’s dispute with the judges and opponents in court.

So is DBR right or wrong? Do you let important people throw around vague claims of criminality? Or do you throw the quote in the trash?

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Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman