Sean Lahman, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, April 16, 2019
Former Louisville meteorologist Jeremy Kappell filed a lawsuit Monday afternoon over his dismissal his former New York TV station in January.
During a segment that showed a live shot of the city’s Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park, Kappell appeared to call it “Martin Luther Coon King Jr. Park.”
Kappell, who had been WHEC’s chief meteorologist since October 2017, said at the time that the incident had been “a simple misunderstanding” that arose because he “jumbled a couple of words.”
The incident was thrust into the public spotlight two days later when Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren and City Council President Loretta Scott called for Kappell’s firing.
The station’s vice president and general manager, Richard Reingold, apologized to viewers on the air the next day, calling what Kappell said “a racial slur” and saying it was inexcusable that the incident wasn’t caught immediately.
In court papers, Kappell describes the incidents as a “linguistic error,” and says that it wasn’t until after the mayor and others declared that he’d made a racial slur that the station decided to fire him.
The civil complaint says that Reingold’s statement “attributed a non-existent intent to Kappell that Reingold could not reasonably had knowledge of and representing to the world that Kappell had intentionally uttered a racial slur.”
The suit also alleges that Kappell has seen his prospects for re-employment “severely damaged by defendant’s callous and reckless conduct.”