A former firefighter that sued Fox News and Anchor Megyn Kelly lost his case.
FNC and Kelly prevailed in a defamation lawsuit filed by a retired Milwaukee area firefighter who came under scrutiny for running in marathons despite receiving duty disability pay for an arm injury he suffered on the job.
A Milwaukee County judge's conclusion: The Fox program "Kelly's Court" isn't an actual news show but rather a mock judicial debate afforded more flexibility to express its opinion.
Aaron Marjala of the North Shore Fire Department was found permanently disabled in 2008 by the State of Wisconsin and independent physicians after suffering nerve damage to his ulnar nerve in his right elbow, commonly referred to as the funny bone, that persisted despite two surgeries.
While collecting the disability payments Marjala, of Waukesha, maintained an active lifestyle that included running in marathons.
In September 2011, Fox's Milwaukee affiliate, Fox 6, reported a story on Marjala, including an interview with Nore Shore Fire Chief Robert Whitaker in which he questioned the conclusion of medical examiners who reviewed Marjala's injury.
A few days later, Kelly picked up on the Fox 6 story, commenting: "The ironman too injured to fight fires, Aaron Marjala, was one of Wisconsin's bravest until he banged his funny bone on a kitchen counter at a Milwaukee firehouse. Oh, the horror."
Milwaukee County Civil Court Judge Jeffrey Conen ruled the "Kelly's Court" audience would recognize the show isn't a straight news program.
"The viewers could independently judge whether the defendant's opinions and comments were reasonable and make up their own mind about the duty disability system and Mr. Marjala's receipt of the benefits," Conen said.
Conen also said Fox News was trying to "illustrate a weakness in Wisconsin's duty disability system" in which Marjala could complete 26.2 mile runs while collecting state payments to help aid his nerve damage.
Defense attorneys Steven Mandell and Natalie Harris of Chicago called Conen's ruling "a victory for free speech."