Bubba "the Love Sponge" Clem
Tampa, Florida -- Jury selection begins Monday for the court battle between two Tampa Bay radio shock jocks.
Todd "MJ" Schnitt is suing Bubba the Love Sponge Clem for defamation.
The personalities here are lightning rods. They've spent years building up partisan groups of supporters; Bubba calls his fans the Bubba Army.
So getting an impartial jury in Hillsborough County may be far tougher than usual. The judge has called 80 potential jurors to fill just over a half-dozen seats.
MJ, whose real name is Todd Schnitt, is suing Bubba the Love Sponge, whose real name is Bubba Clem.
For simplicity's sake, we'll refer to them here as MJ and Bubba.
The claim? Defamation of character.
The lawsuit says Bubba's lies about MJ on the radio:
- Cost MJ the number one spot in the ratings
- Destroyed MJ's reputation
- And put MJ and his wife Michelle in physical danger
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The lawsuit cites times when Bubba called MJ a liar and a thief on the radio, and times when Bubba or others said that Bubba wanted MJ dead.
The lawsuit also quotes Bubba as calling Mrs. Schnitt a whore on the radio and saying she was unethical in her job as a state prosecutor.
Expect Bubba's lawyers to make the argument that the Schnitts are public figures, which that makes them fair game for criticism.
Plus defense lawyers will likely argue that what Bubba said on the air wouldn't be taken literally by a reasonable listener.
And it may be difficult for MJ to prove real financial damages from Bubba's comments on the radio. Financial damages are a key to whether many lawsuits like this hold up in court.
Bubba's attorney is Joseph Diaco, Jr., while MJ is represented by Phil Campbell. Campbell is a media lawyer who also has done work for 10 News on unrelated issues.
Bubba was featured in a commentary segment on 10 News for a time, but no longer has any relationship with 10 News.
The trial is expected last about three weeks, if a fair jury can be found in Tampa.
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Grayson Kamm, 10 News