A woman embroiled in legal disputes with wedding vendors who
accused her of not paying her bills, has sued a Chicago TV station and
television reporter who aired stories about those disputes, alleging the stories smeared her name and reputation.
On Feb. 14, Lake County resident Patricia Fields filed suit
in Cook County Circuit Court against Chicago TV station ABC7 and reporter Jason
Knowles, alleging counts of defamation, intentional infliction of emotional
distress and false light.
Fields is asking the court to award her at least $50,000,
plus punitive damages and legal fees.
The lawsuit centers on a report posted on ABC7’s website
first in February 2016, as well as later follow-up stories, discussing disputes
between Fields and some vendors, including a caterer, makeup artist and a baker
who serviced her wedding.
According to those stories, Fields and the vendors were at
odds allegedly over thousands of dollars in allegedly unpaid bills. The ABC7 story
notes that Fields also sued at least one of the vendors for defamation for a
video posted online accusing Fields of not paying her bills.
In her lawsuit over the ABC7 stories, Fields said the
stories also focused on legal proceedings in Florida and in Illinois, which she
said ABC7 used to impute criminal actions to Fields. She said the news organization
should have known the Florida-related allegations were false. And she said
charges against her in Lake County were dismissed in July 2016, yet the station
“refused to correct or amend their false and misleading stories … all while
knowing full well that the stories were without any factually accurate basis.”
She further alleged the stories were posted “with actual
malice,” accusing the defendants of editing video and recording commentary “in
such a manner as to portray (Fields) as a criminal” and “presented the footage
with false statements in the form of insinuations and questions regarding
(Fields’) reputation, and character.”
Fields is being represented in the action by attorney
Timothy C. Culbertson, of Fox River Grove.