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Fired Sportswriter Sues L.A. Times; Claims He Was Canned for Stories about Dodgers' Dearth of African Americans

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Fired Sportswriter Sues L.A. Times; Claims He Was Canned for Stories about Dodgers' Dearth of African Americans

Article excerpt

BOB NIGHTENGALE, A former baseball writer for the Los Angeles Times, alleges in a wrongful termination suit that the Dodgers' public relations director told him that his stories about the team's lack of black players had made owner Peter O'Malley "very upset"

The same information, Nightengale said, was relayed to him by Dodger manager Bill Russell, who suggested that the reporter not attend Russell's wedding because O'Malley and other Dodger officials would be present.

The Dodger management's reaction to the stories, and the fact that he is married to an African-American woman, led to his firing, Nightengale claims in a suit against the Times; its owner, Times Mirror Co.; former Times editor Shelby Coffey; sports editor Bill Dwyre; and John Rawlings, editor of Times Mirror's Sporting News.

Besides wrongful termination, the complaint fried in Los Angeles Superior Court charges defamation, emotional distress, and "breach of the implied covenant not to terminate without good cause."

Nightengale, who is represented by attorney Cameron A. Stewart of Johnny L. Cochran Jr's law firm, is seeking unspecified damages plus damages and attorneys fees.

The Times has denied the allegations. The plaintiff said he was told by Dwyre and executive sports editor Rick Jaffe that he was being let go because he had been stringing for Sports Illustrated. The writer conceded he had been "answering queries" from the magazine but quit doing so at Dwyre's order. Since joining the Times in 1989, Nightengale said, he won merit raises and promotions and the assignment to cover the Dodgers. At one point, he added, Dwyre raised the possibility that he would become a national sports columnist.

This all changed following his' article, which pointed out that the Dodgers this year would not have a black starter for the first tune since 1947. …

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