Mudd Law Offices obtained summary judgment in favor of their clients who had been sued for alleged defamation.
On May 2, 2012, after oral arguments, the Honorable Dorothy French in the Circuit Court for the 18th Judicial Circuit, Du Page County, Illinois granted the motion for summary judgment Mudd Law filed on behalf of our clients who had been sued for defamation. Charles Mudd of Mudd Law Offices argued on behalf of our clients, the O’Briens.
In 2009, the O’Briens submitted a bid for a foreclosed property in a community association. The Plaintiff also submitted a bid on the property. The bank accepted the O’Briens’ bid. Subsequently, the O’Briens and the bank signed a contract for the purchase of the foreclosed property. However, the contract was subject to the community association’s right of first refusal. This condition precedent represented the only term that stood between the O’Briens and ownership of the property.
As it turns out, the Plaintiff also happened to be the President of the Board for the community association. He informed the bank that the association would not waive the right of first refusal. On August 12, 2009, the Association’s Board held a public hearing. At the hearing, the Plaintiff brought forth the idea of assigning the right of first refusal to the highest bidder. Because not enough board members were present on the 12th of August, the Board recessed until the 18th of August.
Between the meetings, the O’Briens sent a letter to the community members in an effort to persuade them to, in turn, persuade their Board to waive the right of first refusal such that they could purchase the property. In the letter, the Plaintiffs complained of the Plaintiff.
The Board voted to assign the right of first refusal to the highest bidder in a 4-2 vote.
As it turns out, the Plaintiff had submitted his bid on behalf of his clients. At the August 18, 2009, hearing, the clients for whom the Plaintiff submitted the bid submitted a bid for the right of first refusal. Being the only bid, the right of first refusal was assigned to the Plaintiff’s clients.
Nearly a year later, the Plaintiff sued the O’Briens for five statements contained in the letter they wrote in 2009 advocating their position.
In her ruling, Judge French held that only two of the five statements could possibly be defamatory. She also held that all of the statements constituted one or more of truth, opinion, or a statement capable of innocent construction. Beyond this, Judge French held that the O’Briens had made the statements subject to a qualified privilege because both the O’Briens, who authored the letter, and the Association members, to whom the letter was sent, had interests in the content and subject of the letter.
Further, Judge French held that the O’Briens had not abused their privilege.
Based on the foregoing, Judge French entered judgment in favor of the Defendants and against the Plaintiff.