Settlement reached over ad during Diane Black race
MURFREESBORO — The forensic sciences company owned by U.S. Rep. Diane Black’s husband reached a settlement Tuesday with the firm that created an ad at the center of a defamation lawsuit during the 2010 race for Congress.
Aegis Sciences Corp., which is owned by Dr. David Black, settled the lawsuit against Bright Media Inc., which it contends falsely asserted that Diane Black as asenator helped the company obtain contracts from the state. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Aegis Sciences sued former Rutherford County GOP Chairwoman Lou Ann Zelenik and related parties in July 2010 over the commercial.
The lawsuit contended Zelenik’s campaign, campaign manager Jay Heine and Bright Media defamed the company and violated theConsumer Protection Act dealing with campaign ads.
An initial ruling favored Zelenik, saying her commercial was protected political speech. Aegis and Black refused to dismiss the lawsuit and Zelenik filed a counterclaim against them both.
Black, a Gallatin Republican, narrowly defeated Zelenik in the GOP primary and went on to win the general election against Democrat Brett Carter. Following the election, a mediator failed to resolve the matter, and Zelenik then called for dismissal.
Under the settlement announced Tuesday, Bright Media agreed that its ads didn’t intend to accuse Aegis of illegal, unethical or improper behavior and that it had no knowledge of any improper action between Aegis and the state regarding contracts, according to a statement released by Seigenthaler Public Relations.
“We are happy to have amicably settled this matter with Bright Media and to have the opportunity to set the public record straight,” David Black, president and CEO of Aegis Sciences, stated.
Aegis is set to donate all funds it receives from the settlement to Camp Widjiwagan at the Joe C. Davis YMCA Outdoor Center on Percy Priest Lake to fund camp scholarships for children in Gallatin.
Aegis is still pursuing claims against the other defendants.
Zelenik said that Tuesday’s settlement has nothing to do with the merits of her case.
“We look forward to getting this case moved forward,’’ she said.
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