Developer sued by woman claiming free speech violations seeks dismissal

By Amelia Flood | Jul 14, 2009

SSM Contractors Inc. is asking for dismissal of a suit filed by a woman claiming free speech violations.

Plaintiff Sandra Baldwin sued the development company claiming that she is now afraid to speak out at government meetings because the company had previously sued her for libel.

SSM filed a libel suit against Baldwin and Bonnie Crossley, currently a Fairview Heights alderman, in June 2008. The suit was dismissed Oct. 28, 2008.

Baldwin claims that since the lawsuit she has refrained from speaking at county board meetings and has not spoken with the press for fear of retaliation. Baldwin had opposed SSM's requests for zoning variances in the past.

Baldwin's current suit claims that she has been prevented from participating in local government and from exercising her right to free speech. She claims to have suffered emotional distress, lost time and to have incurred attorneys' fees.

SSM filed its request for a dismissal of the 2009 suit June 11. In the motion, SSM argues for the dismissal due to lack of favorable termination and lack of special injury or special damages.

Baldwin seeks $50,000 and costs.

St. Clair County Circuit Judge Patrick Young is presiding.

Baldwin is represented by Patricia Zimmer.

SSM is represented by Christopher Layloff.

The case is St. Clair case number 09-L-227.

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