Madison County Circuit Judge David Hylla continued a hearing on a move by defendant Freedom Communications Inc. that aims to dismiss a defamation of character suit against it and one of its reporters.

The hearing in the suit brought by Charles Bonnell of Bunker Hill had been set May 6.

Hylla continued the hearing the same day after the parties requested he do so.

The parties are to agree to a new date, according to the order the judge signed.

Bonnell is seeking in excess of $1.1 million dollars in actual and punitive damages.

According to his complaint, Linda Weller, a reporter with the Freedom-owned Alton Telegraph, allegedly defamed Bonnell in an article she wrote about a fire in 2008.

Bonnell claims the article implied that he was guilty of arson and that he was wrongfully identified as the owner of the burned building.

The defendants have moved to dismiss Bonnell's complaint or, in the alternative, for summary judgment.

The case had been stayed at one time due to Freedom's Chapter 11 filing.

No new hearing date appears in the case file as yet.

Bonnell is represented by Bernard Ysursa of Belleville.

The defendants are represented by Thomas Stewart of St. Louis.

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

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