Rochester meteorologist sues city mayor over firing

Jeremy Kappell fired after saying "Martin Luther Coon King Jr. Park"

WBEN Newsroom
November 18, 2019 - 4:49 pm

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WBEN) - The meteorologist who was fired after a on-air slip-of-the-tongue is suing the Mayor of Rochester for defamation.

Jeremy Kappell, a former Chief Meteorologist for WHEC, was fired after a "linguistic error", where he said "Martin Luther Coon King Jr. Park" during a January 4 broadcast. Two days later, Rochester's Mayor, Lovely Warren, said that his slip-up was a racial slur and called for him to be fired.

Kappell was fired on January 6.

READ MORE: A slur or a slip up? Kappell's firing causes uproar

WHEC general manager Richard Reingold wrote on the station's website that he was disheartened and disgusted that the words were broadcast and regrets that they didn't immediately apologize.

The former meteorologist, who still tweets weather updates in Rochester, issued a notice of claim to the City of Rochester in April.  

Kappell claims in the lawsuit that Warren's public condemnation and pressure on WHEC came prior to him being interviewed about the comments. Warren then said during a January 10 press conference that Kappel said a racial slur.

He claimed in the lawsuit that the incident gave him severe emotional distress and has been unable to work in the news industry since. The lawsuit did not say how much money Kappell was looking to receive.

Kappell declined comment when contacted by WBEN on Monday afternoon but made the following statement:

After almost a full year of deliberation the decision was formally made to file lawsuit against Mayor Lovely Warren with regards to her involvement in my termination at News10 WHEC and also the defamation created by her careless public accusations and unlawful demands for me to be fired.  As a result, not only have I lost a job and potentially a 20 year career, but my family's name has been permanently tarnished.  

Because of her actions, my family and I have suffered greatly these past many months and unfortunately she has taken zero responsibility and has shown no willingness to move towards a resolution.  She left us with no other option.

Warren's office released the following statement to WBEN.

“The allegations made today are contradictory to the sworn statements made by Jeremy in my office on May 14, 2019. He was fired before the Mayor and the City Council President issued any public statement regarding his racial slur.”

Read the full lawsuit here

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