(LEX 18) — A judge has tossed a college basketball referee’s lawsuit against Kentucky Sports Radio, Matt Jones and Drew Franklin over death threats.
John Higgins sued KSR, saying he received death threats and that his company’s Facebook page was slammed with negative reviews after he reffed a 2017 Elite Eight game in which the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team lost to North Carolina.
Higgins claimed that KSR egged on the criticism.
In a memorandum released Wednesday, Joseph M. Hood, senior U.S. judge for the Eastern District of Kentucky, rejected Higgins claims “with prejudice,” meaning it cannot be brought again.
Hood found that the criticism of Higgins on KSR was protected by the First Amendment.
“The speech enjoys special protection and the First Amendment prevents the Plaintiffs from using tort actions to silence and punish the Defendants for engaging in protected speech,” he wrote.
Higgins initially filed the suit in his home state of Nebraska, but a judge ruled the Higgins’ home state did not have proper jurisdiction for the suit and it was moved to the Eastern District of Kentucky.