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Court rejects appeal of referee's case against KSR, Matt Jones

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Posted at 12:26 PM, Feb 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-27 12:30:52-05

(LEX 18) — Sports radio 2; referee 0.

A U.S. Court of Appeals has affirmed a lower court's decision to toss 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 an opinion filed Thursday, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit affirmed a decision handed down last March by Joseph M. Hood, senior U.S. judge for the Eastern District of Kentucky.

Hood had 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.

Jones hailed the decision Thursday on his Twitter account.

The dismissal of his case has been Affirmed

— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) February 27, 2020

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.