Libel Suit Against Arkansas Business Dropped

The last plaintiff in a two-year-old libel suit against Arkansas Business Publishing Group and Northwest Arkansas Business Journal has asked that the case be dismissed.

Jim Bolt of Springdale, through his attorney, John Dodge of Lowell, filed the motion for nonsuit on May 26. The original plaintiff in the case, Mel Robinson, withdrew his complaint against the newspaper publishers in January 2004.

The case arose from a series of articles about the questionable business activities of a Springdale penny-stock company called Golf Entertainment Inc. and its majority shareholder, a Bentonville entity called the Genesis Trust. The stories were published by Arkansas Business and Northwest Arkansas Business Journal beginning in August 2002.

Robinson was the senior trustee of the Genesis Trust. He sued ABPG, the Business Journal, Editor Jeffrey Wood, President Jeff Hankins and CEO Olivia Farrell in March 2003.

Bolt, who was COO of Golf Entertainment, later joined the libel complaint.

"Other than correcting a minor error in a headline that appeared only in our online archives, we stand by every bit of reporting that we have done on Mr. Bolt, Mr. Robinson and Golf Entertainment," Hankins said. "The fact that they have now both chosen to drop their libel accusation speaks volumes about how likely they were to prevail if this case had gone to trial."

Little Rock attorney John Tull, who represented ABPG in the case, said Bolt can re-file his complaint within a year. But he said that seemed unlikely.

Last month, U.S. District Judge G. Thomas Eisele of Little Rock ordered Bolt, Dodge and the three companies they incorporated in 2003 -- which they called Arkansas Business Publishing Group Inc., Arkansas Business Journal Inc. and Northwest Arkansas Business Journal Inc. -- to pay $84,253 in attorneys' fees incurred by ABPG in asserting its trademark rights to those names.

Eisele also ordered Dodge and the companies to reimburse ABPG for $7,816 spent defending against Dodge's frivolous motionfor sanctions actions against ABPG.