Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union
HUMBOLDT – Another local news organization, the Lost Coast Outpost (LoCO), has received a demand letter from Deborah Drooz, Esq., the Los Angeles attorney representing Humboldt State University Vice President Craig Wruck.
Over the last several days, Drooz has sent the Mad River Union letters accusing it of false and defamatory news coverage regarding her client. In the second letter to the Union, Drooz volunteered the information that another letter had been sent to Lorna Bryant, the KHSU staff member who had claimed inappropriate treatment by Wruck. The contents of that letter have not been made public.
The letter to the LoCO cites a July 24 story by reporter Ryan Burns titled "Citing Race, KHSU Staffer Lorna Bryant Says She Was Verbally Abused By University Vice President."
Drooz defends Wruck as a "soft spoken, experienced school administrator" and states, "By falsely imputing aggressive, disrespectful speech to an individual whose job it is to coordinate with university employees and implement university policies, the Article damages Mr. Wruck’s professional reputation. As such, it is libel per se and actionable in its own right."
The letter further deconstructs the LoCo story, stating that it "reinforces the falsehood that Mr. Wruck abused Ms. Bryant because of her race."
As with the letters to the Union, Drooz demands that the LoCO retract statements made by Bryant:
"In that regard, we request that the Outpost fully and unequivocally retract the following false statements and implications:
1. That Mr. Wruck yelled at and abused Ms. Bryant.
2. That Mr. Wruck’s actions toward Ms. Bryant were motivated by racism.
3. That Mr. Wruck stated, “maybe next time I won’t have to yell at Lorna.”"
The LoCO story points out that some of the statements made by Bryant were drawn from a letter she wrote to university officials and various elected representatives – a letter which had been forwarded to Burns by Wruck himself.
Continues the Drooz letter, "To be effective, the retraction must be published within three weeks of your receipt of this letter, in “substantially as conspicuous” a manner as the defamatory Article. We urge the Outpost to publish a retraction without undue delay."
Concludes Drooz, "This letter is for your eyes only. You are not authorized to republish it."