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Suit Filed Over Slur Ins Software

Thu., March 9, 1995, midnight

A $40 million libel lawsuit was filed by a man offended by the ability of computer software to recognize and respond to a racial slur.

The lawsuit alleges that Thomas D. Wallace and his sons, Terry, Todd and Troy, suffered emotional distress after finding the word “nigger” in an encyclopedia in software from Compton’s NewMedia of Carlsbad, Calif. The lawsuit also names Compton’s owner, Tribune Co. of Chicago, and Best Buy, where the software was purchased.

Wallace, who is black, said he discovered the slur when he inadvertently typed “nigger” while looking up the Niger River. In response, the computer found references under “Drama,” “Martin Luther King Jr.,” “Black Americans or African Americans” and “English Literature.”

Wallace’s first lawsuit in state District Court was dismissed in December. He refiled the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles last week.

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