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Lawsuit Against Mississippi Anchorman Dismissed

In Jackson, Mississippi, NBC on March 26, 2012 at 10:23 am

Howard Ballou (Courtesy: WLBT-TV)

A lawsuit filed by the estate of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. against a Jackson, Miss., anchor has been dismissed by the judge.

The Washington Post reports the lawsuit, filed in September in U.S. District Court in Jackson, targeted WLBT-TV anchor and reporter Howard Ballou.

The suit alleges Ballou, who works for the NBC affiliate in Jackson, kept documents belonging to King.

Ballou said those items were given as gifts to his mother, who worked for King as his secretary.

From the article:

“I’m very pleased that the judge saw how incredibly frivolous and ridiculous this lawsuit was. My mother and father and Dr. and Mrs. King were very, very close friends and I resent how the estate tried to, for lack of a better term, besmirch my mother’s character,” Ballou said Friday. “She risked her life like so many others so we could have the rights we have today. It saddens me that one of America’s greatest heroes, my personal hero, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., is being tarnished by this type of behavior.”

U.S. District Judge Tom Lee dismissed it because he said nothing he saw contradicted Maude Ballou’s testimony that the materials were indeed given to her by King.

The lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice, meaning it can be appealed but not refiled.

The materials Ballou has include a sermon, a statement King made after the Supreme Court ruled on segregation and a handwritten letter from Rosa Parks.

The documents had been stored in the basement of a university in North Carolina, where Ballou’s father worked as an archivist. The university discovered the materials in 2007 and returned them to the Ballou family.

The attorney for the King estate says they will appeal to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

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