Madison - St. Clair Record

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Assisted living facility seeks to dismiss defamation suit over sexual harassment accusations

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Sep 8, 2015

An assisted living facility and one of its employees claim sufficient details are missing in a former employee’s lawsuit alleging he was fired over an allegedly fake accusation of sexual harassment.

David Biggs filed his lawsuit on July 7 against Nicholas Scheibel, individually and as an agent for Bravo Care of Wood River Inc., doing business as Foxes Grove Supportive Living Community.

According to the complaint, Scheibel allegedly fired Biggs on Dec. 21, 2014, based on an alleged sexually harassing statement made about a female employee, “when, in fact, he knew that the plaintiff did not make the statement.” Biggs also claims Scheibel was told by several witnesses that the plaintiff did not make the statement.

The defendants allegedly acted with malice when it terminated Biggs, intentionally and maliciously made a defamatory statement about Biggs which “deters third persons from associating with him,” and also breached its duty of ordinary care to the plaintiff and his reputation.

The plaintiff claims he suffered great emotional distress, embarrassment and a damaged reputation in the community, along with being placed “in a false light before the public.”

Scheibel and Bravo Care filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on Aug. 18, arguing that all counts arise out of the same factual allegations.

The defendants claim the complaint fails to allege with precision and particularity what defamatory statements were made, when the statements were made and who they were made to.

“The complaint only alleges that plaintiff was fired from his employment by defendant and why he was fired from his employment,” the motion states.

The defendants also claim the complaint fails to allege who, when, where and how Scheibel made an unprivileged publication of the alleged defamatory statement.

“The complaint contains only a conclusory and vague allegation that a publication was made by defendant,” the motion states.

Further, the defendants argue the complaint fails to allege specific damages suffered as a result of the alleged defamatory statement, fails to specifically allege what statement placed the plaintiff in false light before the public and fails to allege exactly which statement was so egregious that it offended the conscious and moral standards of a civilized society.

The plaintiff seeks damages of more than $50,000, punitive damages of $150,000, attorney’s fees and costs.

Biggs is represented by Bob Perica of The Perica Law Firm in Wood River.

Benjamin J. Willmann and Rebecca A. Pinto of St. Louis represent Scheibel and Bravo Care of Wood River.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 15-L-860

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