Case management set in defamation suit

Amelia Flood Dec. 13, 2010, 4:53am

A case management conference is set in a defamation of character suit brought against the Alton Telegraph and its owners that seeks more than $1 million in damages.

The case brought by plaintiff Charles Bonnell had been stalled due to defendant Freedom Communications Inc.'s bankruptcy proceedings, but the case docket indicates that discovery including depositions have been undertaken.

Bonnell claims that the Telegraph and a reporter defamed him in a story about a fire that destroyed one of his properties, calling the fire "suspicious" in the Aug. 7, 2008 story's headline.

Bonnell also claims Weller used euphemisms for arson in the story and that it damaged his reputation.

The case management conference is set Dec. 15 at 9:30 a.m.

Freedom Communications has a motion to dismiss the case pending.

In that motion, the defense argues that Weller relied upon public records in writing her story, a reliance protected by both the First Amendment and Illinois common law.

Bonnell is represented by Bernard Ysursa.

Thomas Stewart represents the defense.

Madison County Circuit Judge David Hylla presides.

The case is Madison case number 09-L-751.

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