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Shock jocks Bubba and MJ reach mediation agreement

After a five-year legal battle, a jury decided in January that Bubba the Love Sponge Clem, pictured, did not defame rival radio host Todd “MJ” Schnitt.

Times (2008)

After a five-year legal battle, a jury decided in January that Bubba the Love Sponge Clem, pictured, did not defame rival radio host Todd “MJ” Schnitt.

TAMPA — The five year-long case pitting two Tampa radio rivals against each other is over.

After a 12-hour marathon mediation, Bubba the Love Sponge Clem and Todd "MJ" Schnitt came to an agreement at about 11:30 p.m. Thursday.

And if Clem won the first round with a favorable verdict in January, it seemed Schnitt and his wife took the second round.

According to the agreement, Clem cannot talk on-air or publicly about Michelle Schnitt. If he does, he will have to pay $5,000 plus attorneys' fees.

Clem also agreed to no longer pursue $800,000 in legal fees from the Schnitts.

"There comes a price with the freedoms that I think that I have," Clem said Friday morning on his radio show. "It's the cost of doing business."

The shock jock also cannot slander or defame Todd Schnitt. It's a "non-disparagement agreement," though how much that will limit Clem is debatable. The bar for defamation is high, as the jury showed in its verdict.

On his show Friday, Clem called Todd Schnitt "a narcissistic little (expletive)."

So what's in the agreement for Clem?

Perhaps a lot of money and time saved in the long-run.

The mediation agreement guarantees the Schnitts will not appeal the decision of the jurors, who in January denied all the couple's claims and awarded them nothing. All outstanding motions will be dissolved and the civil case will close.

Both the Schnitts and Clem are pleased with the decision, attorneys said Friday.

So is the Tampa law firm of Adams & Diaco.

During the trial, the Schnitts, who had been represented by the law firm Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, saw their primary attorney — C. Philip Campbell Jr. — get arrested on a DUI charge Jan. 23.

Campbell and his colleagues claimed that Clem's attorneys set Campbell up for the arrest. Campbell had been drinking at Malio's Prime Steakhouse that night with a woman who did not disclose that she was a paralegal for Adams & Diaco, which was representing Clem.

Campbell drove the paralegal's car and was pulled over a couple blocks from Malio's by Tampa police, who had been waiting nearby thanks to a tip from an attorney at Adams & Diaco.

Campbell's firm had been seeking answers to Adams & Diaco's role in Campbell's arrest, filing several motions before and after the verdict in the defamation case regarding that night. But in February, the Schnitts fired the firm and hired a new lawyer, Wil Florin.

If more information about the alleged DUI setup surfaces, it won't be in the civil case, Florin said.

However, it could still come up in Campbell's criminal case or the ongoing Florida Bar investigation into several attorneys at Adams & Diaco.

The Florida Bar said Friday its grievance committee is considering complaints filed against Adams & Diaco attorneys Stephen Diaco, Robert Adams and Adam Filthaut.

It's unclear if the Malio's night came up during Thursday's mediation, during which the attorneys had sandwiches brought in for lunch and pizza for dinner. The discussions inside are confidential.

Thursday was the first time all parties sat down for mediation, even though the case has been dragging through court for five years. The Schnitts filed their lawsuit against Clem in 2008, claiming the shock jock was saying false and defamatory things about them on his radio show.

"We're really happy with the result," Florin said. "It was really time that the two parties sat down in a professional manner, explored their differences and reached a resolution. This should have happened years ago."

As for the Schnitts, their main concern was getting the non-comment agreement for Michelle Schnitt, Florin said.

"After the long road that they've been through, it was time," he said.

On his radio show Friday afternoon, Schnitt expressed the same sentiment.

"My family and I have endured a lot in the last five years," he said.

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at jvandervelde@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3433.

Shock jocks Bubba and MJ reach mediation agreement 03/15/13 [Last modified: Friday, March 15, 2013 5:53pm]
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