Family sues station over disabled son’s photo.
A Nashville-area family has filed a lawsuit against Cox Media Group’s talk “102.5 The Bone” WHPT, Sarasota, FL for using a picture of a man with Down syndrome on its website, allegedly holding a doctored sign that read “Retarded News.” Bernard and Pamela Holland, whose teenage son Adam was featured in the picture, are seeking millions of dollars from Cox and a clip art vendor.
Their lawsuit accuses the station of invasion of privacy and inflicting emotional injury against their son, for altering a photo of him for The Cowhead Show’s website. The picture was apparently posted online by an art teacher who photographed Adam Holland holding up a picture he’d drawn. His parents say in the suit that when they discovered from a friend how the station was using their son’s picture they suffered “severe mental anguish and emotional distress” and are asking the court for punitive damages. They complained to the station and WHPT program director Michael Sharkey explained the photo was used to highlight offbeat news items, not poke fun at the disabled. Regardless, he apologized and the station took the photo off Cowhead’s website.
In U.S. District Court in Nashville, the Hollands have also sued the Oswego, NY-based clip art vendor Sign Generator and a Minnesota man who posted the picture on his Flickr page and made nasty remarks about their son. The suit seeks $6 million from Cox, as well as similar amounts from each of the other defendants.