MANTI—Attorneys for the plaintiff and defense presented their oral arguments during a hearing held in the case of former Mt. Pleasant Mayor David Blackham v. Mt Pleasant City, Kevin Stallings, Justin Atkinson, Dan Anderson, Heidi Kelso and Keith Collier on Jan. 29, in Sixth Judicial District Court, Manti.
Judge Wallace Lee presided over the hearing. The defendants had filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit brought against them. Blackham’s lawsuit alleges that the councilmember defendants have defamed him by reading false and misleading defamatory statements about him in two public meetings of the Mt. Pleasant City Council and by publishing the same comments in two local newspapers.
Mt. Pleasant City and the council members were represented by Heather White of the Salt Lake City law firm of Snow, Christensen and Martineau.
David Blackham was represented by Steven C. Tycksen, Mt. Pleasant, of the Draper law firm of Tycksen and Shattuck, LLC.
During oral arguments the defendants claimed that the Utah Governmental Immunity Act bars the lawsuit against Mt. Pleasant City and the councilmembers individually.
Attorney White argued that the statements made by the individual council member defendants were an act that was within the scope of their council responsibilities with the city and that the statements were not defamatory because they were induced by a public debate over the administration of city affairs.
Attorney Tycksen, representing Blackham, maintained that the statements of the individual city council were not justified by any debate, were not an act made within the scope of the councilmember responsibilities and were a personal attack on Blackham.
Tycksen argued that the statements made were misleading, untrue, made maliciously and without justification to impugn Blackham’s character and cast him in a false light in the public eye and deflect attention away from the mismanagement and corruption of city officials.
Judge Lee took the matter under advisement and promised a written ruling after he had fully reviewed the matter, which could take up to 60 days.