Taser Sues Gannett for Libel Over Story

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Stun gun maker Taser International Inc. (TASR) on Friday said it filed a libel lawsuit against USA Today publisher Gannett Co. (GCI) for publishing an article that Taser said misled readers about the safety of its products.

Taser, which has been under scrutiny over the safety of its stun guns, said it filed suit in Arizona Superior Court accusing Gannett of libel, false light invasion of privacy, injurious falsehood and tortious interference with business relations.

Tara Connell, a spokeswoman for Gannett, said the McLean, Va.-based company had not yet seen the complaint and did not have a comment on it.

Taser shares rose 14 cents to $10.18 on the Nasdaq Stock Market (search). The stock is down about 68 percent so far this year.

The lawsuit centers on a USA Today (search) article from June 3, which Taser said vastly overstated the level of electrical output of one of Taser's stun guns. Moreover, the newspaper "further sensationalized" the story with photographic comparisons of the power of the Taser gun with the electrical output of an electric chair, a lightning storm and an electric train track, Taser said.

The article reported the electrical output of the gun was more than 100 times that of the electric chair, when in fact the average electrical current of Taser guns is 1,000 times less than that of an electric chair, the company said.