A federal judge last week rejected Capital Cities/ABC's request for relief from a $10 million libel award to Florida's BFC Financial Corp. and chairman Alan B. Levan.
In December a federal jury ruled that ABC and producer William H. Willson libeled Mr. Levan and BFC, parent of $2.7 billion-asset BankAtlantic Bancorp, Fort Lauderdale, in a November 1991 segment on the news program "20/20." The segment, titled "Too Good to be True," had accused Mr. Levan of swindling investors who bought BFC real estate securities.
The jury awarded Mr. Levan $8.75 million and BFC $1.25 million.
The television network asked the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida to throw out the decision and rule in its favor instead.
Alternatively, ABC asked the court to grant a new trial, or at least reduce the size of the award. But Judge C. Clyde Atkins rejected all of ABC's motions on July 16 without comment.
"We are extremely pleased that Judge Atkins acted decisively in ruling that the jury verdict was fully supported by the evidence," said Alan Fein, attorney for BFC and Mr. Levan. "We believe that the jury verdict and Wednesday's ruling will result in more careful reporting generally and more accurate information from the news media. The news media has a duty to all of us to do more than just tell a good story."
Floyd Abrams, a free-speech attorney representing the network, could not be reached for comment.
Mr. Fein said he expects ABC to appeal to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals; it has 30 days to do so. "I've always assumed they would appeal it to the Intergalactic Court if they could, and they've not indicated otherwise," he said.
Meanwhile, BankAtlantic reported net income of $6.8 million for the second quarter, up 23% from the same period last year. The thrift earned $13.2 million in the first six months, up 28%.