Dallas’ 5th Court of Appeals recently reversed a trial court and rendered judgment that the plaintiff take nothing in a $1 billion civil suit filed against the Dallas Observer that accused the alternative weekly newspaper of wrongfully disclosing the HIV-positive status of a person mentioned by name in an article.

The plaintiff sued the newspaper, its parent company, New Times Inc., and the author of the article, freelancer J.D. Sparks, after the publication ran a Dec. 4, 2003, article entitled “Fallen Angel.” The focus of the article involved alleged fiscal mismanagement and rifts among former and current leaders at the Dallas Cathedral of Hope church, according to the 5th Court’s Jan. 26 opinion in New Times Inc., et al. v. John Doe. [In his petition, the plaintiff did not disclose his name.]

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