Detroit News prevails over Todd Courser, will donate legal settlement money to scholarships

May 06, 2021, 7:39 AM

In what one hopes is the final chapter in the strange saga of former Rep. Todd Courser's political career, The Detroit News prevailed in his defamation lawsuit against the paper, and will collect $20,000.

Editor Gary Miles said the money would be donated to the Rosa Parks Scholarship Foundation.

Ex-Rep. Todd Courser (Photo: Fox 2)

The case has its roots in Courser's downfall in 2015. That's when the paper first broke the story that the Lapeer Republican had asked his staff to spread a rumor that Courser was partying in Lansing gay bars. His apparent aim was to start an outrageous story circulating in hopes that when true rumors began to circulate -- that Courser was having an affair with his fellow Tea Party darling Cindy Gamrat -- that he could easily dismiss both. Courser, on audio recordings obtained by the paper, called the strategy a "controlled burn." 

The stories eventually led to both leaving the legislature, Courser by resignation and Gamrat by expulsion. 

In 2018, Courser sued The News, alleging that the paper edited recordings cited in Chad Livengood's reporting. 

The News reports:

Under the agreement, the DePerno Law Office, which represented Courser, agreed to pay $20,000 via a wire transfer to The News by 5 p.m. Monday.

The agreement came about two years after Washtenaw County Circuit Judge Timothy Connors dismissed the defamation lawsuit against The News and ordered Courser and DePerno to pay $79,701.63 in sanctions related to the suit. Courser and Matthew DePerno had appealed to the Michigan Court of Appeals, where arguments were set to take place Tuesday.

The News sued DePerno's wife, Laura DePerno, and her trust in Kalamazoo County court in an attempt to collect on the sanctions, arguing a fraudulent transfer of funds had been made to avoid collection, according to the settlement agreement.

Miles said he warned Courser that the paper would fight the suit, would win and "seek sanctions."  

Read more:  The Detroit News

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