State Supreme Court won’t hear Fred Weber’s suit against Diehl

The Missouri Supreme Court will not hear Fred Weber Inc.’s $5 million libel and defamation lawsuit against Oakville resident Tom Diehl. “It pretty much is the last nail in the coffin except for the Hail Mary chance that the U.S. Supreme Court would hear this case.

The odds are very small,” said Phil Prewitt, an attorney for Diehl. An attorney for Weber would not say if the company planned a federal appeal, but Weber’s most recent court motions have cited federal court decisions, rather than merely Missouri law. “We haven’t even looked at that. We haven’t decided one way or another,” said Thomas Wehrle of Gallop, Johnson & Neuman. Weber sued Diehl in February 2004 for his association with fliers naming the company “trash terrorists.” Diehl and many other Oakville residents opposed Weber’s efforts to construct a trash-transfer station in the company’s south quarry near Baumgartner Road.

Calling the fliers fact-less, malicious name-calling, Weber sued Diehl for libel, slander, defamation and business conspiracy. Besides seeking $5 million in punitive damages, the lawsuit sought at least $25,000 in actual damages.

When St. Louis County Circuit Judge John Kintz declined to dismiss the case, Diehl’s attorneys asked the Eastern District Missouri Court of Appeals to intervene by filing a writ of prohibition to stop Kintz from proceding. In upholding Diehl’s request, a three-judge panel ruled the statement “trash terrorist” a matter of opinion, not a false statement of fact and therefore inapplicable to libel, slander, defamation or business conspiracy law.

Read more here