STILLWATER — Sports Illustrated magazine has yet to respond to a summons for a lawsuit against its parent company and two reporters for the alleged malicious publishing of false information, according to online court records.
The summons was issued July 15 in Payne County District Court, and required a written response from the defendants — Time Inc., George Dohrmann and Thayer Evans — within 20 days of receiving notification.
“They’ve still got some time,” Gary Richardson, Talley’s attorney, said Wednesday. “They have 20 days from the time they’ve been served, and I don’t think they have all been served yet. Sometimes it takes a while, but I would be shocked if we didn’t have them served in the next 30 days.”
Efforts to reach the defendants for comment were unsuccessful Wednesday.
In the lawsuit, plaintiff John Talley claims his portrayal in the magazine’s September 2013 five-part series called “The Dirty Game” was false, “lacked factual basis and (was) printed and published with actual malice.”
Talley, an Oklahoma Fellowship of Christian Athletes representative, was reported in the series to have “either grossly overpaid (former OSU football players) for jobs they did or compensated them for jobs they didn’t do,” while working on his ranch.
In one instance, the magazine reports Talley paid defensive tackle Brad Girtman “$1,500 to $2,000 every two weeks during one summer to work on his ranch.”
Student athletes were paid no more than $600 for an entire summer of ranch work, the lawsuit claims, and no player made more than $12 an hour.
In a July interview with The Tulsa World, Richardson said he was extremely confident Talley will win the lawsuit.
“We spent months investigating it, and we concluded (Dohrmann and Evans) were very sloppy,” Richardson said. “I am convinced that we will be able to prove malice, intent to harm … this was very sloppy work in the process of developing a case.”
The lawsuit states Talley is seeking more than $75,000 in damages.
Jenni Carlson profiled Talley and the community response to the allegations against him here.