A federal jury rejected again yesterday a Vienna insurance agent's claim that ABC News and House of Representatives staff members investigating insurance sales abuse damaged her business and violated the federal eavesdropping statute when she was secretly videotaped in 1978.
In a retrial of the case, the six-member U.S. District Court jury in Alexandria deliberated for 2 1/2 hours to determine the outcome of the day-and-a-half-long trial. Charges against five House staff members were dismissed midway through the trial because of a lack of evidence.
In April, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an Alexandria federal jury's February 1982 rejection of the charges made in the case, except for the violation of the eavesdropping statute, which sought $3.15 million in damages, according to attorneys and the suit. The retrial was on the eavesdropping charge.
The suit was filed in 1981 by Glenda C. Brown, who answered an elderly woman's request in 1978 to come to her Arlington home to review her insurance coverage. Unknown to Brown, the woman was an employe of the House Select Committee on Aging probing insurance fraud.
During the 90-minute interview with the woman, Brown was secretly taped by an ABC News crew using a two-way mirror. Part of the session was later used in a November 1978 three-part series on alleged insurance fraud reported by then-correspondent Margaret Osmer-McQuade, also named in the suit, on ABC's World News Tonight.
"I think ABC throughout acted in the best traditions of journalism. I think we were completely vindicated in this courtroom today and that goes for Margaret Osmer personally," said attorney Alan I. Baron, who represented ABC and Osmer-McQuade.