Lawsuit dismissed against Voice, Ball

BLYTHEWOOD – Legal proceedings against The Voice and its publisher have ended.

A Notice of Dismissal filed Aug. 25 by the plaintiff removes The Voice and its publisher Barbara Ball as defendants in a libel lawsuit filed by a Richland Two administrator last May.

Richland County parent Zachary Johnson was also named in the suit. He was still listed as a defendant in the Richland County Public Index as of Tuesday.

The administrator filed suit in May, asserting in court documents that The Voice libeled the administrator by publishing stories about Johnson, who stated that his first grade daughter was strip searched.

His daughter was disciplined for threatening another student with scissors, court papers state.

Johnson aired his accusations in a Richland Two school board meeting open to the public and also in an interview with The Voice, according to the lawsuit.

Richland Two and Richland County Sheriff’s Office investigations later found no evidence of any misconduct, according to the suit.

The plaintiff acknowledged in court papers that The Voice did not name the administrator in news stories, but also said the newspaper published other details the suit said “effectively publicly identified Plaintiff,” the suit states.

Plaintiff attorneys stated in court papers that false accusations damaged the administrator’s reputation. The negative publicity “degraded Plaintiff, reduced [the administrator’s] character and reputation in the estimation of friends, acquaintances, and the public, and rendered [the administrator] contemptible,” the suit said.

As for Johnson, he responded to the lawsuit a couple days after claims against The Voice and Ball were dismissed.

In court documents filed August 29, aside from basic statements of fact, Johnson denied the bulk of the administrator’s claims.

“Any and all statements made by Defendant pertaining to the Plaintiff have been true,” the response says. “Whereas truth is an absolute defense to any allegations of defamation, libel, or slander, the Plaintiff’s complaint must be dismissed.”

The plaintiff has requested a jury trial and is seeking actual damages, punitive damages, attorney’s fees and costs, and other relief as the court deems just and proper.

A trial date has not been set. The Public Index lists December 19 as the date for alternative dispute resolution.

Comments

  1. Gus Philpott says

    Rats! By today (Oct. 1) the public record is gone. The public record should remain public, with the addendum that the plaintiff had dropped the lawsuit. When it is purged from the public record, it’s like it never happened. That is unfair to all.

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