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SINGER'S DIVORCE RULED PUBLIC CONCERN

In a ruling praised by some of the nation's media giants, the state's highest court ruled Monday that the details of singer Melba Moore's divorce were a matter of "legitimate public concern" in New York.

The decision means that Moore's ex-husband, Charles Huggins, must show that the New York Daily News' reporting of the breakup was "grossly irresponsible" instead of simply negligent, as a lower court had decreed.

At issue was the messy split between Moore and Huggins, who used to manage her Tony Award-winning and Grammy-nominated career. They had been married for 16 years before their divorce.

In 1994, the Daily News ran three items on the Moore-Huggins split in Linda Stasi's "Hot Copy" column on celebrities. In them, Moore accused Huggins of mismanaging the couple's money, of being abusive toward her and of failing to support the couple's daughter as was called for in the divorce agreement.

Huggins sued for $90 million, contending that his management business was "decimated" and his reputation ruined.

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