Court summons Spoon FM Management
–Over $US 2.5 million lawsuit
By Lincoln G. Peters
The Civil Law Court in Monrovia has summoned the management of Spoon TV and Spoon FM Communication Network, along with its Chief Executive Officer, and U.S.-based talk show host Stanton Witherspoon.
The institution and its CEO are summoned because of a US$2.5m lawsuit filed by Mr. Wilmot Smith, former Deputy Director General for Information Coordination at the Liberia Institute for Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS).
Lawyers representing Mr. Smith claimed that the CEO of Spoon Network Mr. Witherspoon willfully, and intentionally engaged in a slanderous and libelous campaign to harm and defame, embarrass, and humiliate Mr. Smith.
In the writ of summons, Judge Kennedy Peabody commanded Spoon Network and its CEO on Tuesday, 10 January 2023 to appear before the court to answer the complaint filed by Mr. Smith.
Smith filed an action of damages against the accused for libel and slander.
Failure to appear before the Court, Judge Peabody warned that a judgment by default will be rendered against the accused party.
“You are at this moment further commanded to notify the said defendants to file formal appearance and answer in my office on or before January 16, 2023,” the court’s order said.
The complainant, Wilmot Smith, on late Friday, 6 January 2023, prayed the court to adjudge the accused party liable for damages in the amount not less than US$2,500,000.00 for general damages.
But Smith said this should be decided by the trial jury.
He also pleaded with the court to award him the amount of US$500,000.00 in punitive damages and US$500,000.00 for successful attorney fees.
His legal team headed by Cllr. Arthur Johnson said Smith is a law-abiding and eminent citizen who has served in several positions of high trust and continues to serve in the Republic of Liberia based on the reputation he built for himself.
Cllr. Johnson explained that Spoon Network is engaged in the administration, management, and operation of New Media and Talk Shows operated on several radio stations in Liberia and other social media network operations in Liberia and the United States of America.
He stated that they are listened to by thousands of people in and out of Liberia, named and styled as the Spoon TV Talk Show, and Network Communication.
Additionally, he said Mr. Witherspoon is the owner, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), and Managing Director of the Spoon Network.
Cllr. Johnson alleged that Mr. Witherspoon intentionally engaged in a slanderous and libelous campaign to harm and defame Mr. Smith.
He claimed that this alleged campaign has been on for more than three months, accusing Mr. Witherspoon of branding Mr. Smith as a criminal and a person who stole Census funds intended to pay enumerators.
Cllr. Johnson said this allegation is untrue, defamatory, and has injured his client unjustifiably.
He revealed that between June 2022 and November 30, 2022, on the Spoon Talk Show, the accused engaged in a systematic campaign to defame Mr. Smith by alleging that he stole and personally converted Liberian National Population and Housing Census money.
He noted that Mr. Witherspoon repeatedly labeled and stigmatized Mr. Smith as a criminal during the Talk Shows, allegedly placing his client’s life in shame and embarrassment.
He also said his client has been put in danger from enumerators and even the public as a whole.
“Plaintiff wrote the 1st and 2nd Defendants about the wrongful conduct of the 2nd Defendant on November 30, 2022, because the information made by the 2nd Defendant was untrue and deceptive,” said Cllr. Johnson.
He claimed that the sole purpose of Mr. Witherspoon’s actions was to tarnish his client’s character.