On April 5, 2023, Judge Heitzmann issued a ruling on Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff’s five-count Amended Complaint. The Complaint alleged defamatory statements made by Defendant through various outlets about Plaintiff’s business, including various causes of action for defamation, intentional interference with an existing contract, intentional interference with prospective business relations, and disparagement.
Defendant moved to dismiss all five counts of Plaintiff’s Complaint based on several defenses, including qualified privilege, substantial truth, innocent construction rule, SLAPP Act, and failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. Judge Heitzmann ruled that qualified privilege applied to two statements Defendant made to the Attorney General and the ARDC; therefore, those statements are not defamatory. He also ruled that the innocent construction rule applied to another statement posted to a website that did not identify Plaintiff’s company. Judge Heitzmann further ruled that Plaintiff failed to meet the pleading requirements for two of the causes of action. The Order struck and dismissed Plaintiff’s allegations regarding the statements made to the Attorney General and the ARDC, the statement made to the website, and Plaintiff’s causes of action for intentional interference with an existing contract, and intentional interference with prospective business relations.
Oral arguments on behalf of Defendant were made by attorney James L. Craney.