Morton Downey Jr. Named in Libel Lawsuit
Dec. 10, 1988
MILWAUKEE (AP) _ A former co-worker of TV talk show host Morton Downey Jr. has filed a defamation lawsuit over comments Downey made during an interview with a Milwaukee radio station.
Catherine Catalane filed the lawsuit Friday in Milwaukee County Circuit Court, naming Downey, radio station WLZR and staffer Marilynn Mee as defendants.
Catalane's lawsuit arises from a phone interview with Downey that WLZR broadcast on Dec. 1 and again on Dec. 3. In the interview, Mee jokingly suggested that Downey and Catalane had once had a sexual relationship. Downey responded with a sexual remark about Catalane.
The lawsuit, filed by lawyer Robert E. Sutton, contends the statements were ''false, defamatory and slanderous.'' The lawsuit also contends the radio station's broadcast invaded Catalane's privacy in violation of Wisconsin law.
Specific monetary damages were not listed.
WLZR has been broadcasting an apology to Catalane and her family for several days. On the tape, David Crowl, WLZR's vice president and general manager, says, in part:
''The comments made by Mr. Downey during the interview were solely his own. They did not reflect the opinions of WLZR staff and management.'' Crowl also apologizes for ''mistakenly'' rebroadcasting the interview two days later.
A written copy of the apology was mailed to Catalane's attorney Wednesday, according to the station.
Crowl and Mee had no comment on the lawsuit.
''I have no comment. I have not seen the suit,'' Crowl said.
Downey's New York-based spokesman, John Murphy, said, ''We don't have any comment at this moment.''
Catalane is a former traffic reporter for Milwaukee's WTMJ-AM. In 1986 and 1987, she was a news anchor on Chicago's WMAQ-AM while Downey was host of a talk show on that station.
Catalane says in her lawsuit that Downey has been hostile to her since an incident in October 1986 at WMAQ. She now lives in Evanston, Ill.
The lawsuit says that on Oct. 30, 1986, Downey slapped Catalane in the face ''apparently because (she) would not conform to Downey's directions.'' The lawsuit alleges Downey also indecently exposed himself to Catalane during the incident.
The Morton Downey Jr. Show is a syndicated television talk program.