Outsports will be featured on the next-to-last episode of the reality series "The Law Firm," on Bravo, Saturday, Oct. 8 at noon EDT (check your listings).
The episode, which features real lawyers in a competition arguing real cases, centers around a lawsuit filed in July 2004 by Chris Haribinson, a North Carolina man who said Outsports defamed him by running his picture in a photo gallery from the 2004 Los Angeles Marathon. The parties agreed to have the case decided on the television show before a jury.
Here is a synopsis of the show from Bravo:
"Only three of the 12 competing lawyers remain in the fight for the $250,000 grand prize, and this time the case involves the hot button issues of gay rights and the 1st Amendment. The contestants will work together and face the challenge of going up against famed attorney Geoffrey Fieger, known for defending Jack Kevorkian and presenting the infamous lawsuit against the ‘Jenny Jones Show.' In a surprise twist, legendary American swimmer Gary Hall is brought to the stand to weigh in on this compelling case."
On March 7, 2004, Harbinson was photographed stretching prior to the start of the Marathon by Outsports photographer Brent Mullins, who was credentialed to shoot the event. On March 22, Outsports ran Harbinson's photo as part of a gallery of 150 images from the event, but did not use his name.
In his suit, filed in Raleigh, N.C., Harbinson claimed he is not gay and that his picture on Outsports caused him to suffer "extreme embarrassment, public humiliation, mental agony and damage to his name and reputation."
The suit added that Outsports "knew or should have known that false depiction of Plaintiff as gay could subject Plaintiff to the general community's ridicule, contempt and disgrace (regardless of Plaintiff's being gay or otherwise), and to the gay community's ridicule, contempt and disgrace (as Plaintiff was not gay.)"
Outsports, which has been regularly credentialed to photograph public sporting events from Major League Baseball and the NFL to international swimming and water polo, did not run captions with any of the Marathon photos, and nowhere on the site did it say or imply that Harbinson was gay.
"We believe this lawsuit is frivolous and without merit," Outsports said in a statement last summer. "We have published thousands of images of athletes from the famous to the obscure, and are appalled that in 2004 someone would argue that their mere presence on our site would be defamatory."
"In addition, we were credentialed to shoot the event, which took place on public streets in Los Angeles, and were well within our First Amendment rights. It would be chilling if gay-oriented publications were subjected to different standards than the rest of the media when covering the same event."
Harbinson further contended that use of his image on the Outsports home page as a link inside to the Marathon story and gallery took advantage of him for commercial purposes. Outsports also denied this charge.