Former Indy car, F1 driver Derek Daly sues Indianapolis TV station for $25 million

Derek Daly has sued WISH-TV in Indianapolis for $25 million for defamation of character.PHOTO BY INDYCAR


Defamation suit claims Daly never made racially insensitive remarks in the 1980s


Derek Daly, who found himself in a firestorm of controversy thanks to former Indianapolis Colts play-by-play broadcaster Bob Lamey last August, has filed a $25 million lawsuit against Indianapolis television station WISH-TV, Channel 8, Autoweek has learned.

Autoweek has obtained the lawsuit from the offices of attorney Tim Stoesz of Westfield, Indiana — a northern suburb of Indianapolis. The suit is being filed today in Hamilton County Superior Court in Noblesville, Ind.

Stoesz filed the $25 million lawsuit against Nexstar Media Group and WISH-TV on behalf of his client, Daly, a former Formula 1, CART and Indianapolis 500 driver.

On Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018, WISH-TV Indianapolis ran a story on the 10:30 p.m. news broadcast that made four specific points about the controversy surrounding the sudden retirement of Indianapolis Colts radio announcer Lamey.

According to the document, WISH-TV said on its newscast, “Lamey was retelling a story from 35 years ago and in that story, Lamey used a racial slur — WISH- TV has learned that the original story came from racing analyst Derek Daly.”

Stoesz’s document says, “THIS IS NOT TRUE — Lamey’s story and racial slur was not from 35 years ago as he thought, His story came from somewhere else, some other time and he mixed up where he thought he heard it from. He mistakenly attributed the story (to) Derek Daly, and WISH-TV was informed by Daly in writing, four hours before their broadcast, that Lamey’s story did NOT come from him.”

Lamey claimed it was a comment Daly made to Lamey during a live radio interview in the early 1980s, but according to Daly’s attorney, “Daly was never interviewed by Lamey.”

The newscast also stated, “We spoke with Daly and he confirmed that he was the source of Lamey’s story.”

Stoesz said, “How could Daly confirm an interview that never happened? He was never even asked by WISH if he was the source of Lamey’s story.”

The final part of the television newscast stated, “WISH-TV never had any knowledge of Daly’s interview with Lamey and in light of the news, WISH-TV is severing ties with Derek Daly effectively, immediately”

Stoesz’s response in the court filing is, “How could they have knowledge of an interview that never happened?”

The complaint details that:

– As a result of the false and defamatory statements of defendants, plaintiff Derek Daly suffered damages to his reputation and loss of income.
– Plaintiff Derek Daly was injured as both a direct and proximate result of the conduct of all of the named defendants and is entitled to compensation for his injuries.
– Plaintiff seeks monetary damages against the defendants, collectively and severally for each cause of action.
– Plaintiff further seeks an award of punitive damages for defendant’s willful and wanton conduct in damaging plaintiff in an amount greater than $25 million.

“This story was a result of poor management within WISH-TV jumping to conclusions,” Daly said in the court filing. “They heard a rumor that a competing station, WTHR Channel 13 Indianapolis, was working on a potential additional story that linked Daly to the Bob Lamey controversy. WISH-TV was so scared that somehow their racing analyst might be linked, and they might be beaten to the blazing headline, they jumped to a false conclusion.”

The attorney’s document concludes by saying, “WISH-TV management knew four hours before their broadcast that Daly was NOT the source of Lamey’s story and racial slur because he informed them in writing. WISH-TV egregiously jumped to a conclusion without any apparent 3rd party confirmation in a clear violation of journalistic norms.

“Within hours, it became apparent from media professionals in the city that the WISH-TV story, as reported, was factually incorrect. Professional support came from across the globe for Daly with the strongest support of his character coming from the first African-American to qualify for the Indianapolis 500, Willy T. Ribbs. Ribbs and Daly have been close friends for 41 years, and Daly had just returned from Ribbs’ wedding in Las Vegas, three days before.”

Autoweek has placed a call to the news director at WISH-TV and is awaiting comment on the station’s behalf.

Daly is an award-winning television journalist who spent 30 years at WISH-TV as its motorsports analyst. He had just celebrated that milestone with live on-air celebrations during the month of May at the 2018 Indianapolis 500.

Daly competed in six of the seven Indianapolis 500s he entered from 1982 to 1989. He failed to make the field in 1986. His best start was ninth in 1988; his best finish was 12th in 1985. He began his CART career in 1982, and it concluded in 1989. He scored one podium finish in 66 races. Prior to that, Daly was a Formula 1 driver from 1978 to 1982.

Despite his lack of success on the racetrack, the Irish native was a great storyteller and had analytical insight into racing. He was ESPN’s analyst on CART telecasts in the early 1990s and began working for WISH-TV in Indianapolis as its racing expert when his racing career concluded. Daly was one of the more popular personalities for that station for 30 years before it all ended once Lamey made an off-color comment that he attributed to Daly after an interview concluded at Indianapolis Colts training camp last August.

An employee of Emmis Communications, owner of the radio station that covers the Indianapolis Colts, informed human resources of Lamey’s story, and he lost his job as the “Voice of the Indianapolis Colts” — a position he had held since the NFL franchise had relocated to Indianapolis from Baltimore in 1984.