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Settlement Reached In Record $58 Million Libel Judgment

June 28, 1991 GMT

DALLAS (AP) _ A television station has settled a record $58 million libel judgment with a former prosecutor who sued over a 1985 series that accused him of taking payoffs, a station official said Thursday.

A jury in April decided that Dallas television station WFAA defamed Vic Feazell, the former McLennan County district attorney.

A spokeswoman for station owner A.H. Belo Corp. and Feazell refused to reveal the amount of the settlement. The company had turned down Feazell’s pre-trial $10 million settlement offer.

The series accused Feazell of accepting bribes in exchange for dismissing drunken driving cases. Feazell contended in a 1986 lawsuit the series was malicious and filled with inaccuracies and defamatory statements.

In the suit, Feazell said an 11-part series by a WFAA reporter ruined his reputation and led to an FBI investigation.

Feazell was indicted in 1986 on federal racketeering charges and acquitted the next year. He resigned in 1988 to go into private practice in Waco, Texas.

Final documents are expected to be signed and the case closed within 30 days, said Jodie Hughes, a spokeswoman for A.E. Belo Corp..

The libel award exceeded the $34 million a jury ordered The Philadelphia Inquirer to pay in May 1990 over a 1973 story that criticized a lawyer’s handling of a homicide case when he was an assistant district attorney.