A libel lawsuit filed against a member of the South Bend Common Council has been dismissed.
Four South Bend Police Department officers — Tim Corbett, Dave Wells, Steve Richmond and Brian Young — sued Councilman Henry Davis Jr. (2nd District), alleging libel and defamation of character. Judge Jenny Manier dismissed the case with prejudice, meaning that it cannot be brought back to court.
The case stems from a letter that Davis sent to the Justice Department in regards to the police tapes controversy that has dogged the city since 2011. Litigation costs have piled up, approaching $1.6 million to date, including both attorney’s fees and settlement costs.
That may balloon even higher.
Davis Jr., who is an elected member of the city’s legislative branch, is asking for the reimbursement of attorney’s fees.
His lawyer, A. Robert Masters, told the South Bend Tribune that the city is required to represent city employees and elected officials who act “within the scope of the officials’ employment.”
Speaking to the South Bend Voice, Davis Jr. estimated that his attorney fees amounted to roughly $50,000 but that the figure was “based on going to trial so that will be adjusted due to the new ruling.”
“Clearly I am elated by the court’s decision and the hard work by my attorney, Mr. Robert Masters,” Davis Jr. told the Voice.
“Now it is time to work on the things that matter to our citizens the most. We have to work harder to ensure the safety of all residents, make real adjustments to lower our taxes and make sure simple city services are being delivered at the highest level for customer satisfaction.”
Davis Jr. also released a statement on Facebook, which reads:
Today, St. Joseph County Superior Court Judge Jenny Manier dismissed, with prejudice, the libel and defamation of character case filed against me by four South Bend police officers — Tim Corbett, Steve Richmond, Brian Young, David Wells.
From the onset, my legal counsel — Robert Masters — has maintained that there was no merit to the officers’ case. I am grateful that the judge agreed.
I remain humbled and thankful for the unwavering love and support from my family, pastor, church family and supporters.
Throughout this process it has been important for me to remain focused on serving the citizens of our great city.
I am blessed to have the privilege to serve the people of the 2nd District. It is my job to ensure that the people of our great city have true representation. I was elected to give voice to their issues, address their concerns, and meet their needs. I am committed to continuing serving with the same principled and determined leadership that I have always.
The attorneys for the police officers indicated that they would appeal the ruling.