We have learned that DC Superior Court Judge Christian just issued a judgment against well-known citizen/gadfly/former-and-recently-elected-Commissioner Kathy Henderson for her defamation of local bar Jimmy Valentine’s Lonely Hearts Club:
Plaintiffs’ Motion for Summary Judgment is granted with respect to JVLHC’s claim of defamation per se…Defendant’s Motion for Reconsideration is denied, and Defendant must remit the sanction in full on or before January 20, 2013.
Local businesses JVLHC LLC (Jimmy Valentine’s) and Ashburn Foods LLC (Capital City Diner) sued Kathy Henderson for defamation and libel, following Henderson’s infamous online postings wherein she lobbed accusations at the two local businesses online. However, Judge Christian dismissed Ashburn Foods’ claim on a technicality, stating that Henderson’s statements focused more on the diner’s owner personally, and not the business itself, allowing the diner’s owner to bring another suit at a later date.
The ruling further states that Henderson knew such statements were false at the time she made them, and that she made them in an apparent attempt to disparage the business. Such allegations included false postings made online to local e-mail list serves, as well as false complaints to the DC Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration and other city agencies.
Damages will be assessed at a trial to be held next year, but the judge has barred Henderson from providing testimony. In the meantime, the judge ordered that she pay sanctions that she was apparently previously ordered to pay in June for failing to obey an order:
If a party fails to obey an order to provide or permit discovery, a Court may require the party failing to obey the order to pay the reasonable expenses, including attorney fees, caused by the failure…the Court ordered Defendant to pay Plaintiffs $1,901.77 in attorney fees and costs, which the Court found were appropriate expenditures…allowing Defendant to pay $300 per month over a period of six months. At this time, Defendant has not paid any of this amount.
The plaintiffs were represented by local attorney Matthew LeFande, who specializes in civil rights litigation. According to his website, he “was previously appointed as a Special Assistant Corporation Counsel for the District of Columbia and as a member of the Metropolitan Police Department, serving for over fourteen years with numerous awards and service decorations, including an FBI Director’s Commendation for Heroism, the CHAMPS award, the Sustained Performance Award and the MPD Medal of Achievement.”
UPDATE: On the Ward 5 listserv, Henderson states that she “did the right thing and told the truth. I continue to believe my community deserves to be treated fairly and we deserve to enjoy a good quality of life. Unfortunately, there are some that have a different agenda and have no regard for our neighborhoods or me.” Of course, it appears the the judge disagrees with Henderson on this.
Full ruling can be viewed here: