Washington Post loses libel suit

A federal jury awarded $2.05 million in damages to the president of Mobil Oil Corporation after finding The Washington Post had libeled him in two 1979 articles.

Mobil president William Tavoulareas was awarded $250,000 in compensatory damages and $1.8 million in punitive damages based on the first of two articles in which the Post said Mr. Tavoulareas used Mobil's money and his influence to set up his son in the shipping business and to win him millions of dollars in Mobil contracts. The business in question is a London shipping management firm, Atlas Maritime Company.

The two men had sued for $50 million, saying their reputations were damaged by the Post's printing of the two articles. The jury decided not to award any damages to the son in the case.

But in a companion case, the jury awarded William Tavoulareas $5,000 and Peter $1,000 against the father's former son-in-law, Peter Piro. The Tavoulareases sued him for slander for providing information used in the article.

Irving Younger, the Post attorney, said he would file a motion within 10 days to set aside the verdict. If the motion is not granted, the newspaper will appeal, Mr. Younger said.

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