Hearing Friday for Alton Telegraph defamation suit

By Amelia Flood | Jul 6, 2011

A Friday hearing is set on a move to dismiss a defamation of character suit seeking over $1 million in damages from the owner of the Alton Telegraph and one of its reporters.

Madison County Circuit Judge David Hylla will hear the move to dismiss the case filed by Freedom Communications Inc. and reporter Linda Weller at 9:30 a.m.

Freedom and Weller are being sued by Charles Bonnell who claims that a 2008 article that Weller wrote about a fire that appeared in the Telegraph damaged his reputation.

The Bunker Hill resident is asking for damages in excess of $1.1 million in damages and other relief.

Hylla had been set to hear the dismissal move in May but that hearing was pushed off.

According to the plaintiff, Weller wrongly named him as the owner of a building that burned and implied he was guilty of arson.

The case has been slowed by Freedom's time in bankruptcy proceedings.

The defendants have also moved for summary judgment in the suit arguing the statements made in the article are not actionable and that they do not implicate the plaintiff in any criminal activity.

Bernard Ysursa represents Bonnell.

Thomas Stewart represents the defendants.

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

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