In May 1891, John A. Lovely, an accomplished personal injury lawyer in Albert Lea, won a $4,000 verdict for John H. Graham, who was injured in a fall on a defective city sidewalk. This was one several negligence claims Lovely brought against the city at this time.
This case induced paroxysms of anger in Harwood G. Day, the owner, publisher and editor of the Freeborn County Standard. In articles about this case and others, Day lambasted frivolous slip-and-fall suits that threatened the city treasury and future development. He turned his fury on Lovely, implying that he cheated Graham of a fair share of the recovery. In one column of speculation on how little Graham supposedly received, Day wrote: "No wonder that John A. Lovely lives in one of the stateliest and most luxuriously furnished mansions in the State of Minnesota."
This was too much for Lovely who demanded a retraction from Day as required by state law and when that was not forthcoming sued him for libel in district court. The case was settled in December 1892 with Day agreeing to publish a retraction in the Standard.
The Lovely v. Day case is just one of the torrent of libel suits against Minnesota newspapers from the 1870s through the early 1900s that are the subjects of studies on this website.