Woman's counter suit against Belleville contractor at trial; Plaintiff argues free speech was stifled
A woman's suit against a contractor who had previously sued her for libel is at trial this week in St. Clair County Associate Judge Vincent Lopinot's courtroom. Opening arguments were held Monday. Plaintiff Sandra Baldwin was the defendant in a 2008 suit brought by SSM Contractors Inc. over comments she allegedly made in her opposition to zoning variances the company wanted for construction projects in St. Clair County. The 2008 suit was dismissed in October of that year. The suit also named Fairview Heights Alderman Bonnie Crossley as a defendant. Baldwin then counter-sued claiming the contractor attempted to intimidate her with its 2008 lawsuit and that it was quashing her freedom of speech. She claimed that as a result of his suit, she was afraid to speak out at government meetings. She also claimed that she had not spoken with the press for fear of retaliation. Baldwin had opposed SSM's requests for zoning variances in the past. The suit seeks damages of at least $50,000 and costs. Baldwin is represented by Patricia Zimmer. The defendant is represented by Lloyd Cueto. The case is St. Clair case number 09-L-227.