Civil suit begets malicious prosecution complaint

Steve Gonzalez Jan. 31, 2006, 5:41am

In a malicious prosecution complaint filed Jan. 20 in Madison County Circuit Courty, Joseph Kehrer claims Claude Edwin Smith made false accusations in a 2003 St. Clair County civil lawsuit.

Kehrer, of Clinton County, is represented by Elizabeth Heller and Mark Goldenberg of the Goldenberg Law Firm in Edwardsville.

He alleges that Smith, of Madison County, falsely suggested that he instructed and urged various unknown people to physically attack him.

In the St. Clair County lawsuit, Smith alleged that the people that Kehrer urged to attack him repeatedly struck him and injured him with glass objects.

"Kehrer in fact never committed the acts alleged by Smith," the complaint states.

According to Kehrer, after Smith filed the lawsuit, the false allegations against him were picked up and reported by the news media, and the false allegations were published in the community where he and his family live and work.

Kehrer further claims that during a sworn deposition, Smith confessed that he could not identify him as the person who ordered the alleged attack.

"Despite the fact Kehrer never committed the acts that Smith alleged, Smith allowed the allegations to remain in the lawsuit and did not withdraw them for over two years after filing his false allegations against Kehrer," the complaint states.

According to the complaint, Smith voluntarily dismissed Kehrer from the suit with prejudice, and Kehrer did not make any offer of settlement to Smith in exchange for the dismissal.

"Smith filed the claim against Kehrer in the lawsuit maliciously and without probable cause in that Smith had no proper evidence that Kehrer ordered any attack, in fact, Kehrer never ordered any attack," the complaint states.

Kehrer claims he sustained special injuries and damages, including, but not limited to a loss of reputation within his community, adverse publicity, expenses in an effort to regain his reputation and expenses in defending the lawsuit.

"Smith's conduct in filing a claim against Kehrer in the lawsuit was willful and outrageous due to Smith's evil motive or his reckless indifference to the rights of Kehrer," the complaint states.

Kehrer is seeking a judgment in excess of $50,000 against Smith for malicious prosecution, together with pre-judgment and post-judgment interest at the maximum rate allowed by law, the costs of the suit and additional sum to punish Smith for his conduct and as a deterrent to others.

The case has been assigned to Circuit judge Nicholas Byron.

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