Politics & Government

State Sen. Ralph Alvarado settles defamation lawsuit against consultant Dale Emmons

State Sen. Ralph Alvarado, R-Winchester.
State Sen. Ralph Alvarado, R-Winchester. Photo provided by Legislative Research Commission

Republican state Sen. Ralph Alvarado of Winchester has reached a settlement in his defamation lawsuit against Democratic political consultant Dale Emmons, though Alvarado’s legal battle against former state Sen. R.J. Palmer continues.

Alvarado’s attorney, Christopher Hunt of Lexington, said Wednesday that Alvarado has received a signed public apology from Emmons.

He also said “financial provisions” were involved in the settlement with Emmons but both Alvarado and Hunt declined to reveal them. Hunt also said they would not be spelled out in the settlement.

“My focus has not been so much on money, though I had to spend a pretty good amount of money in pursuing this. It was a matter of principle for me,” said Alvarado in a brief interview.

“We have gotten an apology from Mr. Emmons. We still are going to pursue one from Mr. Palmer.”

During the election campaign for the 28th Senate District in October 2014, Alvarado, a medical doctor, sued Palmer, the incumbent from Winchester, and Palmer’s campaign consultant, Emmons, for defamation involving a campaign ad.

Alvarado also sought a restraining order to stop the television ad. However, a Scott circuit judge a few days before the election refused to grant the order.

Alvarado contended that the ad used spliced courtroom footage to cast him as a drug dealer.

The ad implied that he unlawfully prescribed $3,000 worth of oxycodone to a criminal defendant, Alvarado said. Video from the court hearing is clear that the defendant had a valid prescription for OxyContin, Alvarado said.

“Such a blatant characterization against a small-town family doctor was beyond the pale, even for politics,” attorney Hunt said Wednesday. “The ad went after Dr. Alvarado’s professional career and personal character.”

Palmer, who had been the Senate minority leader, initially said Alvarado’s claims had no merit. Palmer’s attorney, Brian Thomas of Winchester, did not respond to a call for comment.

“Despite Mr. Hunt’s gloating, the agreement with Dr. Alvarado makes clear that I did nothing wrong,” Emmons said Wednesday in a statement.

“It reads: “Settlement Agreement does not constitute an admission of any fault, liability, or wrongdoing, or the validity of the allegations, claims, or contentions of any party to this settlement agreement made in or asserted in the Clark Civil Action,’ ” Emmons said.

Emmons said he conferred with his attorney and decided “it was time to move on.”

Alvarado’s attorney disclosed the apology from Emmons. It said: “Dr. Alvarado was not involved in any criminal activity. I am publicly apologizing to Dr. Alvarado for creating a misimpression in the advertisement to the contrary. Dr. Alvarado was not involved in his patient’s illegal drug activity.”

Jack Brammer: (502) 227-1198, @BGPolitics