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Alvarado to appeal court’s decision to overturn jury verdict


By Tom Marshall
Senior Advocate writer

State Sen. Ralph Alvarado of Winchester said he plans to appeal to the state Supreme Court a ruling last week by the Kentucky Court of Appeals throwing out a jury verdict awarding him $200,000 in a defamation suit.

Alvarado told the Advocate that he was surprised the appeals court was so willing to throw out a unanimous jury verdict against former Senate Minority Leader R.J. Palmer, a Winchester Democrat.

“We think their ruling in this matter is erroneous and we’re prepared to continue to fight this,” Alvarado said. “We think the Supreme Court will reach the proper verdict in the end.”

Alvarado said he plans to file a motion before the Supreme Court asking for a discretionary review of the ruling. He has 30 days from last Friday in which to do so.

The Supreme Court has the discretion of whether to take up the case.
At issue was a 30-second television ad Palmer ran in 2014 when he was facing Alvarado, a physician, for the Senate seat.

The ad spliced together video footage from a Montgomery County court case reportedly implying that Alvarado unlawfully prescribed oxycodone to a criminal defendant, Alvarado said previously. He said the defendant actually had a valid prescription for Oxycontin.

At a December 2016 trial, a Clark County jury found Palmer’s campaign guilty of defamation and awarded Alvarado $125,000 in compensatory damages and $75,000 in punitive damages.

Palmer told the Advocate that he was “very grateful” to the Appeals Court for protecting his First Amendment rights. He referred further questions to one of his attorneys, Barry Miller of Lexington.
Palmer was also represented by attorneys Brian Thomas and Christina Vessels.

Miller said the Appeals Court decision clearly shows that the ad was protected political speech.

“I’m very pleased for Mr. Palmer obviously,” Miller said. “We’re both very gratified with the work the Court of Appeals did in this case. You can tell from reading the opinion that it wasn’t an easy one for them. They did their hard work to, I think, reach the right conclusion.”

Miller also offered advice to other candidates who feel they have been wrongly treated by a campaign ad.

“The best recourse is to get thicker skin,” he said.

Alvarado had settled a defamation suit he brought against Democratic political consultant Dale Emmons earlier in 2016. A company owned by Emmons created the ad.

Emmons signed a public apology letter and reached a financial settlement that was not revealed.