Jury says The Oklahoman defamed announcer, awards $25 million in damages; Gannett to appeal


A Muskogee County jury has awarded a man $25 million in damages after finding The Oklahoman defamed him in 2021 when it incorrectly identified him as the speaker of a racist rant during a high school basketball playoff game.

Scott Sapulpa filed a civil defamation lawsuit accusing Gannett, The Oklahoman’s parent company, of defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

After a two-week trial, the jury on Friday ruled in favor of Sapulpa on both causes and awarded him $5 million in compensatory damages. The 12-person jury returned on Monday and assessed $20 million in punitive damages.

Gannett said it intends to appeal.

Read more from The Oklahoman