INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Derek Daly, a former racing analyst for WISH-TV, filed a $25 million defamation lawsuit against the station and its parent company.
The suit, which names WISH-TV and Nextstar Media Group, alleges that Daly suffered “damages to his reputation and loss of income” after the station inaccurately associated him with the use of a racial slur and terminated him as its racing analyst.
The station fired Daly after linking him to a story that led to the sudden retirement of former Indianapolis Colts radio announcer Bob Lamey.
On Aug. 22, the suit says, WISH ran a story in its 10:30 p.m. broadcast alleging that Daly was the source of the slur that precipitated Lamey’s retirement. The suit takes issue with four specific points in the report:
- The report said Lamey’s story and racial slur were from 35 years ago; however, the suit contends Lamey mixed up where he heard the story and attributed it by mistake to Daly, who informed the station hours before the broadcast that Lamey’s story didn’t come from him
- The station reported that Daly told the story to Lamey during a radio broadcast in the early 80s; the suit said that interview never took place
- The station said Daly confirmed he was the source of Lamey’s story; the suit said Daly was never asked if he was the source of the story
- The station reported that it didn’t have any knowledge of Daly’s interview and decided to sever ties with him; the suit contends the station couldn’t have had knowledge of an interview that didn’t happen
“This story was a result of poor management within WISH-TV jumping to conclusions. They heard a rumor that a competing station, WTHR Ch 13 Indianapolis, was working on a potential additional story that linked Daly to the Bob Lamey controversy,” Daly said in a statement. “WISH-TV was so scared that somehow their racing analyst might be linked, and they might be beaten to the blazing headline, they jumped to a false conclusion.”
After his firing, Daly admitted he’d used a racial slur in the early 80s, when he had recently located to the U.S. A radio reporter, Larry Henry and not Lamey, asked him a question, and Daly used the “n-word.” He contended he didn’t know the ramifications of that word in the U.S.
“When I used that phrase in the early 80s, I had no idea that in this country that phrase had a horribly different meaning and connotation, as it was commonplace in Ireland,” Daly said in the statement released in August. “After moving to the United States, I quickly learned what a derogatory term it was. When I was first informed of this, I was mortified at the offense I might have caused people. I have therefore never used the word since. I made this mistake once, but never again.”
The fallout from the report was significant. Daly said he’s suffered loss of income and speaking engagements. His son, Conor, had his racing sponsorship pulled by Eli Lilly for a NASCAR Xfinity Series event at Road America.
Daly, who’s represented by Tim Stoesz of Stoesz & Stoesz law firm, is seeking $25 million. The lawsuit was filed Thursday in Hamilton Superior Court in Noblesville.
Nextstar Media Group, the parent company of WISH-TV, is in the process of buying Tribune Broadcasting, the parent company of FOX59/CBS4.
WISH-TV has not responded to CBS4’s requests for a statement.