Former Star columnist Steve Penn’s lawsuit against the paper has been dropped, at least for now

  • Penn says he’ll refile.

Division 12 of the Jackson County Courthouse this week was all set to be a big party for media watchers in town, for former Star columnist Steve Penn’s defamation lawsuit against his old employer. Penn was fired by the Star in 2011 for recycling press releases and passing them off as his own in his column. Among other things, Penn’s suit alleged that such practices were common at the newspaper. Which would be pretty sad if it’s true.

Deposed for the trial were some big names, including former sports columnist Jason Whitlock and current editor Mike Fannin. But now it seems that we won’t get to hear what they have to say, after all – or, at least, not this week.

That’s because Penn filed a somewhat bizarre Voluntary Dismissal Without Prejudice yesterday, stating:

“A witness Plaintiff believes is critical to a fair presentation of the issues called Plaintiff’s counsel to advise that the witness’ elderly mother had fallen and hit her head, with uncertain prognosis, and that the witness was on his way to be with his mother and could not be available for trial. Because Plaintiff believes that the case cannot be fairly tried and the issues presented at this time, pursuant to Missouri Rule of Civil Procedure 67.02, Plaintiff therefore hereby voluntarily dismisses this action without prejudice. The case will be re-filed.”

So Penn and the Star do not appear to have settled, as it was thought they might. Hmm.

We’ve got a call out to Penn’s attorney. We’ll update if we hear anything about future filings.

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