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PHILLIPS PUBLISHING WINS DISMISSAL OF LIBEL SUIT; NATIONAL LIFE DEFEATED IN MAJOR VICTORY FOR FIRST AMENDMENT

 PHILLIPS PUBLISHING WINS DISMISSAL OF LIBEL SUIT;
 NATIONAL LIFE DEFEATED IN MAJOR VICTORY FOR FIRST AMENDMENT
 POTOMAC, Md., June 11 /PRNewswire/ -- After a two-year legal battle in federal court, Phillips Publishing, Inc., has won dismissal of a multi-million dollar libel suit brought by National Life Insurance Co. of Vermont.
 In a precedent-setting 55-page opinion issued yesterday, Judge Edward S. Northrop of the U.S. District Court in Baltimore dismissed the libel suit, granting Phillips Publishing's motion for summary judgment and sweeping away National Life's claims.
 Thomas L. Phillips, president of Phillips Publishing, hailed Northrop's decision to dismiss the suit.
 "Judge Northrop's precedent-setting decision helps to safeguard the First Amendment rights of all citizens and all publishers," Phillips said. "From the day the suit was filed, we were determined to defend our First Amendment right to bring our subscribers hard- hitting, uncensored information that helps them build their wealth, protect their financial security, and avoid the risks of bad investments."
 In May of 1990, National Life of Vermont filed suit in federal court alleging that Phillips Publishing and Richard Band, editor of the PPI newsletter Profitable Investing, had published false and defamatory comments concerning the insurance company.
 In the pages of Profitable Investing, Band had expressed his opinion that he, personally, feels "uncomfortable" dealing with an insurance company that has not earned one of Standard & Poor's top two rankings (i.e., AA or AAA). National Life of Vermont had received a ranking of A+ from Standard & Poor's, putting them in the bottom 13 percent of all life insurance companies rated by S&P.
 During the ensuing two years, Phillips Publishing vigorously defended itself against the libel suit which it viewed as an attempt by National Life to muzzle unfavorable comment by Band, one of America's most respected financial writers.
 Bruce W. Sanford of Baker & Hostetler in Washington, lead counsel to Phillips Publishing, headed the company's legal defense against the lawsuit. Sanford noted that Northrop's decision breaks important new ground in libel law.
 "Judge Northrop's opinion takes its place among the most important libel decisions of the Fourth Circuit Court," Sanford said. "The decision makes it clear that corporations cannot use their wealth and resources to attack publishers with litigation for commenting on their operating performance."
 For further information on the legal ramifications of the court's decision, contact Sanford at Baker & Hostetler's Washington office, 202-861-1500.
 Phillips Publishing, Inc., with annual sales of more than $95 million, is a privately held publishing firm based in Potomac. The company publishes eight of the largest circulation consumer newsletters in the areas of investments and health, plus more than 60 trade publications in the fields of telecommunications, media, data communications, banking, defense, aviation and energy.
 The 18-year-old company, with more than 400 employees, has offices across the United States and in the United Kingdom.
 -0- 6/11/92
 /CONTACT: John Farley of Phillips Publishing, 301-340-2100/ CO: Phillips Publishing, Inc.; National Life Insurance Company ST: Maryland IN: PUB SU:


DC-MH -- DC027 -- 9394 06/11/92 16:19 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jun 11, 1992
Words:501
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