Status conference set in Belleville bar owners' defamation suit

Amelia Flood Sep. 22, 2010, 8:26am


A status conference has been set in a defamation of character suit brought against a Belleville citizens' group and its leader by two local business owners.

An Aug. 26 order setting the conference is the first action in the case since February when St. Clair County Circuit Judge Patrick Young allowed defendant Maureen Morris to file a counterclaim in the

Morris and Citizens Reviving Historic Belleville Inc. were sued by plaintiffs Elizabeth Yarber and Michael Lieb two years ago.

The plaintiffs claim that Morris and the group, which she led at the time, spread rumors about them and their businesses.

As a result of the rumors, the plaintiffs claim that their businesses, Yarber's Brick Street Tavern and Lieb's planned cyber cafe, lost out on necessary permits.

The status conference in the case is set for Oct. 19 at 9:30 a.m.

According to the original suit, Yarber and Lieb were both seeking permits for their businesses that would allow them to expand their hours and open the cafe in residential neighborhoods.

The suit contends that Morris and the citizens group told neighbors of the businesses that the plaintiffs were laundering money, selling drugs and using the businesses to commit crimes.

The plaintiffs claim they were damaged by the rumors and eventually lost out on the permits they required.

The suit seeks in excess of $300,000, punitive damages and other relief.

While the suit saw a number of filings last year, the pace of the case has slowed this year.

Jarrod Beasley represents the plaintiffs.

Ted Dennis represents Citizens Reviving Historic Belleville.

Tom Maag represents Morris. She was previously represented by Melroy Hutnick. Hutnick withdrew from the case last year.

The case is St. Clair case number 08-L-490.

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