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Judge will hear motions to dismiss Bain lawsuit

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By Brian Garner

Circuit Court Judge Brian Gibbons is scheduled to hear arguments in Chester County court on Sept. 26 on the motion by attorney Ken Childs to strike certain portions or dismiss entirely the lawsuit brought against Childs and Chester County School Board chair Denise Lawson by Superintendent Dr. Angela Bain, alleging defamation and civil conspiracy.

As previously reported in The N&R, Childs, an attorney who has been employed in the past by the school district, in the motion, called the allegations against him by Bain ‘a hit job’ and ‘an effort to discredit him and provide fodder for gossip.’

Childs filed a request in August that the court issue an order striking or removing some of the claims in the lawsuit because they are ‘rife with material that is nothing more than redundant, immaterial, impertinent or scandalous’ and included in the lawsuit ‘for no purpose save that of humiliating (Childs) and tarnishing his reputation in a transparent attempt to inflame the media and any trier of fact.’

The motion states Bain’s complaint contains allegations against Childs ‘that appear to be nothing more than inflammatory and defamatory statements published with the idea that (Bain) can defame Mr. Childs in a protected forum.’

The motion asks for the court to issue an order striking many of the allegations that mention Childs from the complaint, or alternatively, striking the entire complaint.

Childs also filed a motion to dismiss Bain’s entire complaint against him because ‘it appears certain that (Bain) cannot prove any set of facts in support of her claim.’

At the same time as Childs’ motions are expected to be heard, Judge Gibbons will hear arguments on a motion filed by on behalf of co-defendant, board chair Denise Lawson.

As previously reported, the motion by Lawson asks the court to dismiss the claim of defamation because ‘In her defamation claim, (Bain) alleges that “(Bain) has been falsely accused of willfully defrauding the Chester County School District by accepting compensation from outside sources and being incompetent or unfit for her job due to the same.” (Bain) also alleges that Lawson accused “(her) of violations of state law by falsely alleging that her contract with Chester County School District is breached by the plaintiff by earning compensation from other districts…[and] fraudulently was a partner or owner of a business to promote these outside activities.”

The motion argues Bain does not reference any specific communication to support this allegation.

Also the motion states the Bain lawsuit alleges “these statements and others were made to persons within and outside of the school district in the absence of a need to know basis. The defamatory statements were published to, including, but not limited to, the superintendent of Marlboro County School District and to The News & Reporter.”

The motion says the plaintiff in a defamation action has to prove a defamatory statement was made, that the communication was made to a third party and the existence of “special harm” caused by making the statement. In this case, the motion argues, Bain has failed to sufficiently allege a claim of defamation against Lawson.

In the second claim of civil conspiracy, the motion argues that Bain has made ‘few if any factual allegations regarding the alleged “civil conspiracy.”

A footnote adds, ‘Curiously, plaintiff alleges that Lawson and (co-defendant) Childs have “met, schemed, planned and conspired with one another and with [unnamed] others to terminate plaintiff’s contract with Chester County School District, remove her from the position of superintendent, and to prevent plaintiff from any future employment with Chester County School District or any other school district by defaming her.”

‘None of these actions have taken place,’ the motion argues, adding that Lawson is perfectly within her rights as a board member to question Bain’s performance and compensation.

The motion asks the court to dismiss the clams. Judge Gibbons will hear the arguments on these motions on Sept. 26 at 10 a.m.