Strategic Staffing Solutions, Inc., (S3) the Detroit-based global information, technology and business services company, filed a defamation lawsuit in Oakland County Circuit Court recently against New World Communications of Detroit, Inc. and WJBK., WJBK FOX 2 Television, FOX 2 reporter Charles LeDuff and producer Douglas McKenzie.
The suit was filed in connection with a story aired by FOX 2 the evening of Feb. 2, 2012 involving a call center that S3 has operated for Wayne County since 2004 that the suit says “contained factual inaccuracies that defamed both S3 and its president, Cynthia J. Pasky.” It seeks damages in excess of $25,000.
The suit said “there was a calculated and deliberate decision on defendants’ parts to avoid the truth in order to sensationalize the story and further the dramatics of their ongoing series on Robert Ficano and the office of the Wayne County Executive.” It says that the story “falsely implies that S3 illegally and/or illicitly obtained and renewed a contract” for the call center “in exchange for significant contributions to Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano’s campaign.”
“We are filing this suit because FOX 2 has rejected all attempts to meet and go over the serial inaccuracies and misstatements that were in the story that aired,” Pasky said. “Given their continued stonewalling of our efforts to contact them, our only recourse is the courts.”
According to S3, inaccuracies in the FOX 2 story enumerated in the lawsuit include:
The story falsely implies that S3 illicitly obtained and renewed a contract with Wayne County to operate a call center in exchange for significant contributions to Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano’s campaign. In fact, the contract was originally awarded through a competitive bidding process in 2004 and was approved by the Wayne County Commission in a public session.
The story makes the “blatantly false” assertion that S3 failed to perform under the contract with Wayne County.
The story involved a “calculated and deliberate decision … to avoid the truth in order to sensationalize the story and further the dramatics of their ongoing series on Robert Ficano and the office of the Wayne County Executive.”
FOX 2 ignored the fact that the contract extension in 2009 was approved by the Wayne County Commission in full accordance with the charter after a full explanation and that the extension lowered the county’s costs at a time when the economy was at an all-time low and cost-cutting measures were imperative.
The story ignored the fact that under the new contract Wayne County realized a 15 percent reduction in call center costs in the first year for a total savings of $84,432 and an additional 10 percent reduction in the second year for further savings of $47,000.
The story ignored the fact that when proposed additional profits did not materialize, S3 further reduced its rates to the county pursuant to the contract, providing additional savings.
The story ignored the fact that in 2011, S3 again competitively bid for the project with five other potential vendors, and the contract was awarded to S3 based on its superior bid.
The story falsely said that LeDuff had tried to call Pasky and showed him supposedly falling asleep while on hold. Company phone records show that no such call was received.
The story falsely said that FOX 2 had requested a representative of S3 to appear on camera when no such request had been made.