by Ivan Foley
A member of the Village of Ferrelview’s governing body is being sued for defamation over comments he allegedly made about people who had attended a meeting to discuss issues related to the conduct of the village’s board of trustees and its police chief.
The lawsuit, brought by seven plaintiffs, has been filed against Frank Baumann, a member of the Ferrelview Board of Trustees. Baumann was served notice of the lawsuit during last Tuesday’s board meeting.
Baumann offered no comment after being served with the documents.
Representing the plaintiffs is Dennis Rowland, a Kansas City attorney who has been representing several Ferrelview residents who have taken issue with what they claim is overzealous police activity by Daniel Clayton, chief of police at Ferrelview.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Derrick Hayes of Olathe, Ks.; Tara Borron of Kansas City; and five Ferrelview residents: Walter Miller, Wesley Lowther, Rhonda O’Connor, Joe Moreland and Russell Wilson.
The suit claims that on May 21, plaintiffs attended a general informational meeting to discuss “issues related to the conduct of the Board of Trustees of the Village of Ferrelview and the conduct of its
police chief, Daniel Clayton.”
The suit alleges that on May 22, Baumann made specific statements regarding the character of the plaintiffs who attended that meeting. The suit alleges Baumann specifically stated that “all the people at the meeting were a bunch of nobodies, meth heads, dopers and dope dealers.”
According to the lawsuit, the plaintiffs claim the statement was made “with the intent to expose plaintiffs to public ridicule, hatred, and/or contempt and/or to deprive plaintiffs of the benefits of public confidence and social associations.”
The suit says the statement was “specifically and intentionally directed to and heard by persons not a party” to the lawsuit.
The plaintiffs allege the statement was “malicious, without merit, and intended to cast doubt on plaintiffs’ claims and concerns regarding the conduct of the board of trustees so that the board would not receive or consider any complaints from plaintiffs with any meaningful consideration.” The suit alleges that the statement damaged the “general reputations” of the plaintiffs.
The suit asks that punitive damages be assessed against Baumann, and also seeks reimbursement for the plaintiffs’ attorney fees.
In a second count, Hayes individually alleges that on June 2, 2016 Baumann stated to Hayes “that he was a dope dealer.”
That statement, according to the suit, was made in the presence of Diedre Carr, another member of the Ferrelview Board of Trustees, and others not involved in the lawsuit.
The statement “was outrageous and made with evil motive or reckless indifference to the rights of plaintiffs for which punitive damages should be assessed” against Baumann, the suit states. “Such allegation was made knowing it was false or with reckless disregard as to its veracity for which punitive damage should be assessed” against Baumann, according to the lawsuit.
A docket call on the lawsuit is scheduled for Sept. 16 at 9 a.m. in front of Judge James Van Amburg in Platte County Circuit Court.