Hylla grants summary judgment for Suburban Journals in defamation case

Amelia Flood Sep. 28, 2009, 8:36am


A suit brought by a man claiming a local newspaper defamed him by printing his name, address and picture in its "Top 5 Most Wanted Criminals" feature is over.

Madison County Circuit Judge David Hylla granted a motion for summary judgment filed by the Suburban Journals of Greater St. Louis LLC after plaintiff Gary Tedford did not show up for the motion hearing Sept. 25.

Hylla had previously reset the hearing on the motion to allow Tedford more time to find an attorney. His previous counsel, Robert Perica, withdrew from the case.

Tedford had sued the owner of the Collinsville Journal-Herald after he claimed it negligently and maliciously defamed him in running his name and alleged criminal history over the course of two months in 2001. Tedford had sought compensatory damages of $50,000 and punitive damages of $5 million.

According to his suit, the Collinsville paper ran his photograph, address and summary of his alleged crime in a March 2001 feature entitled "Top 5 Most Wanted Criminals." Tedford claims he had been falsely accused of a crime in October 2000 and that he was never notified that there was an active warrant out for his arrest.

Tedford argued that the paper willfully failed to investigate the facts of the case, printed libelous words and ran the feature the following month after he had called it to explain he was not a criminal.

Tedford asked Hylla for more time to find an attorney at an Aug. 24 hearing.

He did not appear, according to the Sept. 25 order Hylla signed, despite being notified of the hearing.

The Suburban Journals filed its motion for summary judgment in April.

Tedford was listed as representing himself following the August hearing.

The Suburban Journals was represented by Mark Lindmark.

Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder was originally assigned to the case.

The case is Madison case number 07-L-586.

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