Astronomers seek to strike woman's demand for bill of particulars; They say their 15-page complaint is sufficient

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Mar 8, 2017

Two astronomers seek to strike another astronomer's demand for a bill of particulars in their suit alleging the woman made defamatory statements within their professional community.

Two astronomers seek to strike another astronomer's demand for a bill of particulars in their suit alleging the woman made defamatory statements within their professional community.

Wyoming residents Timothy and Stephanie Slater filed the complaint on Nov. 21 against Pamela Gay.


Murphy  

In their complaint, the plaintiffs allege Gay stalked them at various conferences in an attempt to take customers and grants from them. They also claim she made false allegations of misconduct and disseminating slanderous and libelous statements within their professional community.

According to Gay's website, she is the Director of Technology and Citizen Science at the Astronomical Society for the Paciic. She previously worked as a professor.

As a result, the Slaters allege they lost opportunities for advancement and suffered reduced book sales and speaking engagements.

Gay filed a demand for a bill of particulars on Feb. 3 through attorney Michael Murphy of Freeark Harvey & Mendillo PC in Belleville and Ferne Wolf of Sowers & Wolf LLC in St. Louis.

She argues that the plaintiffs’ complaint is “so wanting in detail the claim is deficient.”

“The allegations of the Plaintiffs’ Complaint as to Pamela Gay are devoid of basic facts which would allow her to file a responsive pleading,” the motion states.

Gay argues that the Slaters failed to identify which oral or written statements were defamatory and failed to set forth facts identifying the dates or time periods during which the alleged defamatory conduct occurred.

“Without such information, Pamela Gay’s ability to investigate the allegations and formulate a meaningful response is prejudiced,” the motion states.

The Slaters filed a motion to strike Gay’s demand for a bill of particulars and to compel responsive pleading on Feb. 27 through attorney John Wendler of Edwardsville.

They argue that their complaint is not vague and is approximately 15 pages long, consisting of 56 paragraphs.

“Despite the breath and the detail of the Plaintiffs’ complaint the Defendant has filed a motion basically directed to three paragraphs,” the motion states.

They also argue that a bill of particulars doesn’t apply here, as they are typically used in dissolution of marriage cases, criminal matters and statutory sex harassment cases.

The Slaters say the allegations within the defendant’s bill of particulars “involve misdirection and a partial admission of liability.”

They explain that Gay alleges she can’t respond to the claim that she spread a report from the University of Arizona Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Office because the plaintiffs’ didn’t plead which allegations were false. However, the Slaters say this argument consists of misdirection and an effort to obscure the issues because “the report should not have been distributed IF ANY OF THE CONTENTS WERE FALSE AND DEFAMATORY and, as discovery will illustrate, each page of the report was stamped CONFIDENTIAL.”

The Slaters also argue that Gay represents an implied admission in her bill of particulars that she defamed the plaintiffs but only plans on addressing those occasions the plaintiffs know of at this time.

“Plaintiffs do not wish to disclose all email traffic of which they be aware as Defendant’s husband works in the electric data industry and may have scrubbed her computer,” the motion states.

The plaintiffs add that the demand for a bill of particulars is actually a motion to dismiss, “as the pleading does not specify what particulars are specifically requested but rather makes vague and disjointed (cherry picking paragraphs) allegations of conclusions.”

The Slaters seek damages in excess of $50,000 each. They also seek $33 million in punitive damages.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 16-L-1598

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Freeark, Harvey and Mendillo Madison County Circuit Court

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