Judge Rules Defamation Lawsuit by Amherstburg CAO Will Proceed

A Windsor judge has allowed a lawsuit against a former mayoral candidate in Amherstburg to move forward.

As AM800 News reported in September, the town's CAO John Miceli is suing Glenn Swinton for defamation and libel for comments Swinton posted on Facebook in the summer of 2018.

Swinton made an application to the court to have the lawsuit dismissed claiming it would limit 'public debate', but the judge rejected the motion.

"I conclude on the evidentiary record before me, and for the purposes of this motion, that the potential damage to Mr. Miceli far outweighs the public interest in protecting this type of expression.  I conclude that the harm likely to be or which has been suffered by the plaintiff as a result of the defendant’s expression is sufficiently serious that the public interest in permitting the proceeding to continue outweighs the public interest in protecting that expression," ruled Justice Christopher Bondy.

The post in question, alleged Miceli was involved in fraud when employed by the City of Windsor and that he directed Amherstburg Council to contract out the town's police services to Windsor.

Swinton was asked to remove the comments because they were damaging to his reputation but he refused.

Miceli's lawyer Richard Pollock says this was a partial victory for his client.

"His reputation is important to him as a public servant and there is  nothing more important that a man has than his reputation and he is pleased with the ruling and eager to move forward with the proceedings," says Pollock.

He says social media is not a forum for voicing 'any' opinion.

"A man can't defame another in pursuit of an electoral aspiration and so that it was important for Mr. Miceli that he be allowed to proceed further," says Pollock.

He says there is a message in this lawsuit.

"Even where if someone shares the post of another, you are responsible for what is on your wall, so if someone defames someone on your wall and allow it to be posted, you can be held responsible for that defamatory broadcast or publication," says Pollock.

He also points out the matter is still before the courts and both sides are now waiting for a ruling on the cost of this motion.

Miceli is seeking $90,000 in damages.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.