Appellate Court to review suit against Diehl
All litigation between Fred Weber Inc. and an Oakville man the company is suing has been halted until a state appeals court rules whether the $5 million defamation and libel suit should be dismissed.
Fred Weber Inc. filed suit Feb. 20 in St. Louis County Circuit Court against Tom Diehl and is seeking $5 million in punitive damages and at least $25,000 in actual damages.
Diehl publicly has opposed Fred Weber's efforts to construct a trash-transfer station in Oakville for more than a year.
Diehl faces counts of slander, libel, civil conspiracy and business defamation for his alleged association with fliers that were distributed last December identifying Fred Weber Inc. as "trash terrorists," according to claims made by the company in the suit.
St. Louis County Circuit Court Judge John Kintz in July denied Diehl's motion to dismiss the suit, but Judge Lawrence Mooney of the Eastern District of the Missouri Court of Appeals, agreed to evaluate Kintz's decision at the request of one of Diehl's attorneys, Mike Quinlan. Quinlan pursued the appellate court order, known as a preliminary writ of prohibition,
As a result, Mooney last Friday stalled all court actions and proceedings regarding the lawsuit until mid-October during the judge's review of the matter.
"It is extremely rare for an appeals court at this stage to take control of a case," Jerry Wamser, an attorney for Diehl, told the Call, noting appellate courts typically do not stop action "mid-stride" with cases in lower courts.
Until mid-October, the judge will be examining the constitutionality of Fred Weber's suit, according to Wamser.
Diehl was scheduled Monday morning to meet with Fred Weber attorneys to offer statements for a deposition, but that and any future meetings of that nature have been put on hold until Mooney reaches a decision after considering briefs from both parties.
Kintz or Fred Weber attorneys have until Aug. 10 to file a response to the prohibition order.
Diehl's attorneys must submit a brief to Mooney no later than Aug. 31, of which Fred Weber's response is due no later than Sept. 30. Any reply brief would be due Oct. 15.
"You are order(ed) to refrain from all action in the premises until further notice," the court order states.