DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit News said a former state lawmaker and his lawyer agreed to pay $20,000 to settle a lawsuit against the newspaper.
Ex-Rep. Todd Courser had filed a defamation lawsuit against the News for a 2015 report about efforts to cover up an affair with another lawmaker. The case was dismissed by a judge, but Courser and attorney Matthew DePerno were also ordered to pay $79,701 in sanctions.
The $20,000 settlement this week ended the dispute just before the Michigan Court of Appeals had planned to hear arguments.
The settlement “sends a message that frivolous lawsuits against news organizations for performing their duties under the First Amendment will not be taken lightly,” publisher and editor Gary Miles said Wednesday.
The money will be donated to the Rosa Parks Scholarship Foundation, Miles said.
DePerno said Courser wanted to “move on” after years of litigation.
The settlement also will end a separate lawsuit in Kalamazoo where the newspaper had sued DePerno’s wife and a trust in an attempt to collect on the financial sanctions.
Courser, a Lapeer County Republican, quit the Legislature in 2015 and later pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor related to the scandal. Cindy Gamrat, a Republican from Allegan County, was expelled from the House.
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