Miami, Florida – The owner of the newspaper Haiti Observateur Group, Leo Joseph, agreed to the dismissal of a lawsuit brought against him by Madsen Law P.C.’s clients Laurent Lamothe, the Prime Minister of Haiti, and Patrice Baker, his former business partner.
In Lamothe v. Joseph, 12 Civ. 23300(MGC)(JJO) (S.D. Fla.), Lamothe and Baker sued Joseph for publishing an article that accused them of using the Haitian government to pressure Haitel, a bankrupt telecommunications company, to sell its assets at below market value to Nord Citadel, a New York investment company seeking investments in Haiti.
In exchange for the dismissal, Joseph agreed to publish in the Observateur – in its entirety – a sworn declaration by Michael Charles, the founder and managing partner of Nord Citadel. The declaration confirmed that the allegations against Mr. Lamothe and Mr. Baker were completely fabricated. In telling passages of the declaration, Charles refutes the Observateur’s claims that the Prime Minister was involved in promoting the sale. “Neither I, nor Nord Citadel was ever pressured in any way by Mr. Lamothe,… or anyone else associated with the Haitian government.”
The sworn declaration also shows that Mr. Joseph misrepresented the sources he used for writing the article. He claimed that he had interviewed Mr. Charles, citing him as the principal source for his allegations against the Prime Minister. According to Charles they held a brief phone call where only the time and place of a possible interview were discussed. The interview never materialized.
In another passage of the declaration, Charles denies Joseph’s claims that he was wined and dined in Haiti by Haitian government officials in their attempt to seal the sale of Haitel. Charles notes, “I have never been to Haiti in my life.” In the same vein, Charles acknowledges that he has never met Prime Minister Lamothe. Citing Charles as the source, the Observateur’s central allegation was that the Prime Minister had pressured Nord Citadel to put down a substantial down payment to purchase Haitel and that they had “agreed to a purchase price of $25 million even though the assets of Haitel were worth around $80 million.” In the sworn statement, Charles denied having ever made those false statements to the Observateur’s Joseph simply because the interview never occurred.
Prime Minister Lamothe long claimed that neither he nor his former partner had brought the lawsuit against the Observateur to obtain monetary compensation. Lamothe stated he felt completely vindicated by the dismissal, because “by agreeing to publish an affidavit that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that we were truthful from the beginning and that Mr. Joseph was simply not telling the truth, the objective of the lawsuit has been more than met.”
Charles’s declaration supports the U.S. District Court’s early finding in February of 2013 that Joseph had acted with “malice and with a reckless disregard for the truth.”
Bertrand Madsen, one of the attorneys for Messrs. Lamothe and Baker, noted that “this lawsuit was never about money – rather, it was about the truth. The District Court has now ordered Joseph to publish a declaration that totally vindicates our clients’ position. The truth has thus been restored.”