Cabbie settles suit with San Francisco Chronicle
over misidentified use-of-force photo
A photo of cab driver Jack Neeley appeared in the February 5th
issue of the San Francisco Chronicle, misdentifying
Neeley as an SFPD officer with a history of excessive force
complaints against him.
By Julia Cheever, Bay City News Service
June 9, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - A taxi driver and the San Francisco
Chronicle reached a confidential settlement today of a defamation
lawsuit the driver filed against the newspaper for mislabeling
his photo as that of a police officer discussed in an article
on alleged excessive force.
Daniel Bacon, a lawyer for taxi driver Jack Neeley Jr., 42, confirmed
that the settlement was reached in San Francisco Superior Court
Bacon said the terms of the agreement are confidential, but said,
"My client is very pleased and satisfied with the settlement."
Neeley's photo was incorrectly identified as that of Officer
John Haggett, who has been suspended three times for using excessive
force and named in a number of citizens' complaints, in the San
Francisco Chronicle on Feb. 5.
The mislabeled photo was run on the front page and again on an
inside page. The article was part of a series on problems in the
Jonathan Donnellan, a lawyer with the Hearst Corp., which owns
the Chronicle, said, "We are pleased that Jack Neeley has
agreed to put this matter behind us and return the proper focus
to the Chronicle's reporting on use of force by the San Francisco
The lawsuit was filed on May 8 and was based on claims of defamation
and portrayal in a false light, Bacon said.
Bacon said Neeley contended he suffered emotional distress and
also had to cut back on night driving hours after a passenger
accused him of being Haggett. Neeley is now driving fulltime again,
Bacon said, "The Chronicle really did step up to the plate
and got this resolved promptly."
Chronicle spokeswoman Patricia Hoyt said the newspaper published
two corrections and has apologized to Neeley publicly and privately.
"We are really sorry about the error," she said. Hoyt
Chronicle officials have determined how the mistake was made,
but have declined to make that information public.
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