Banker Claims Newspaper Defamed Her

     CHICAGO (CN) – A former credit union executive says in court that a local newspaper falsely claimed that her work was under investigation by law enforcement and regulators.
     Christine Brown says she used to be the president and manager of the Elgin Employees Credit Union and has no criminal record.
     Despite her “untarnished record,” however, reporter Mike Danahey wrote a slanderous article about Brown that appeared in the printed and online versions of The Courier-News, according to the complaint filed in Cook County Circuit Court.
     The article, published by Sun-Times Media, allegedly included the headline: “Suit, investigation target ex-head of former Elgin City Employees Credit Union.”
     Danahey allegedly falsely wrote that Credit Union One and Elgin Employees merged after the Illinois Department of Professional and Financial Regulation raised questions about Brown’s conduct during a routine audit.
     As quoted in the complaint, the article states: “Christine Brown, the former president and manager of what was the Elgin City Employees Credit Union is being sued by Rantoul-based Credit Union One and remains under investigation by law enforcement and regulatory services.”
     It also allegedly states: “In January 2011, members of the Elgin City Employees Credit Union approved a merger with Credit Union 1. The move came about after questions about how Brown was conducting credit union business arose during a routine two-year audit conducted by the Illinois Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, Division of Financial Institutions.”
     But Brown says these statements are not true.
     “Danahey would have known that plaintiff was not being sued by CUO at the time of the article was published by making even a cursory investigation,” the complaint states.
     Brown says she and her husband filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in May 2010. They allegedly received a discharge on Sept. 20, 2010, and the case was closed three days later.
     Though Credit One filed an adversary complaint to revoke the discharge on Sept. 15, 2011, the bankruptcy court denied this adversary complaint and dismissed it in December, according to the complaint.
     Danahey nevertheless published his inaccurate article more than two months later, the lawsuit says.
     Brown insists her conduct had nothing to do with the merger of the credit unions, which she attributes to the overall dismal economy.
     She says Danahey and Sun-Times Media refuse to correct the false article. The Courier-News itself is not named as a defendant.
     Brown seeks punitive damages for libel and placing in a false light. She is represented by Christian Elenbaas of Robert Semrad & Associates.

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