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Inglewood Mayor Sues L.A. Sentinel Over Wal-Mart Story

Inglewood Mayor Roosevelt Dorn has sued the Los Angeles Sentinel and columnist Larry Aubry for libel over a column published just before voters rejected a proposal to speed approval of a Wal-Mart store next to Hollywood Park.

A complaint filed June 8 charges Aubry’s statement in a column that Dorn “reportedly has accepted at least $40,000 from Wal-Mart” was libelous because Dorn took no campaign money from the Arkansas-based retailer.

The column ran in the April 1 issue of the Sentinel. The Wal-Mart initiative, known as Measure 4-A, was defeated on April 6.

Dorn sent a letter on April 8 threatening suit unless the Sentinel published a retraction. Aubry did write, and the Sentinel did publish, a statement in which Aubry said the “amount was incorrectly stated.” He added that campaign records show Dorn accepted $2,000 from Rothbart Development, “Wal-Mart’s Southern California developer and co-sponsor of the ‘Yes on 4-A’ campaign.”

Dorn’s allegation in the complaint, prepared for him by attorney George L. Mallory, suggested that he found the statement insufficient. “Up to and including the date of the filing of this Complaint, Defendants have failed and refused to publish an accurate unequivocal correction or retraction to reflect the true facts as required by law,” the complaint said.

The document also alleged that Dorn “suffered and will continue to suffer damage to his reputation and to his standing in the community” because of the column.

The Sentinel has served Los Angeles’ black community since the 1930s. It was recently purchased by the family of activist and businessman Danny Bakewell, who became the editor.

Dorn, an attorney and former judge, was officially neutral in the Wal-Mart campaign.

Aubry, who is the father of L.A. Weekly staff writer Erin Aubry Kaplan, told the Weekly earlier this year that he believed his sources who told him that Dorn accepted Wal-Mart contributions.


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