Dekalb County Defamation Suit Dismissed
Pretzel & Stouffer partner, Richard Kenyon, recently obtained dismissal with prejudice of a defamation per se suit in a claim filed in the Circuit Court of Dekalb County. Rick defended a local businessman in the residential rental industry, who also hosts a well-known local radio talk show program where current community issues are discussed. The plaintiff is a local businesswoman also employed in the local residential rental industry. The allegedly defamatory statements were made during the broadcast of the defendant’s talk show. The comments were made shortly after a fire at an apartment complex managed by the plaintiff and a subsequent press conference held by local government representatives that was attended by both the plaintiff and the defendant.
The plaintiff alleged that during the radio talk show, the defendant knowingly made false statements that questioned the mental health, integrity, and ability of the plaintiff to perform her employment duties. Rick successfully argued that the statements did not amount to actionable defamation, because they were imprecise, rhetorical hyperbole which could not reasonably be interpreted as statements of fact, but rather were constitutionally protected opinions.