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Judges at law school to hear defamation case

March 30, 2009

A panel of Indiana Court of Appeals judges will head a few blocks from their Statehouse courtroom to Indiana University School of Law - Indianapolis to hear arguments in a case involving defamation and invasion of privacy claims stemming from a letter written to church leaders.

In Rosalynn West v. Betty Wadlington, et al., No. 49A02-0809-CV-849, Rosalynn West sued her fellow churchgoers, Betty Wadlington and Jeanette Larkins, and Larkins' employer, the City of Indianapolis, for defamation and invasion of privacy. Wadlington wrote a letter about West to their church board of trustees and board of deacons and sent the letter in an e-mail to Larkins at her work e-mail address. Larkins then forwarded the e-mail on to more than 80 other e-mail addresses.

The defendants filed a motion to dismiss West's complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, arguing the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment prevented the court from ruling whether the statements in the e-mailed letter were defamatory or false. The trial court granted the motion to dismiss.

Judges L. Mark Bailey, Michael Barnes, and Paul Mathias will hear arguments at 5 p.m. Tuesday in the law school's Wynne Courtroom, 530 W. New York St., Indianapolis.

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