(CN) – A South Carolina politician will get a chance to prove he was defamed by a newspaper article, after a ruling by the state Supreme Court.
Robert William Metts is the deputy supervisor of Berkeley County. He sued county councilwoman Judy Mims for her quote in an article by The Berkeley Independent and the Goose Creek Gazette called “It was helpful, but was it legal?”
Metts also sued the newspapers over the article, which detailed a policy allowing county workers to compete with private contractors for work on private property.
In the article, Mims was quoted as saying that county employees were doing work on Metts’ private property. Metts said Mims, who is now deceased, made this statement as part of a “longstanding vendetta” against Metts’ supervisor.
Both the trial court and the appeals court ruled that Metts did not prove that Mims displayed actual malice in making her statement.
However, the state Supreme Court determined that summary judgment was not appropriate in this case.
The reporter, Justice Waller wrote, knew about the vendetta and received a list of people who had work done on their property. Metts’ name was not on that list.
“Because we find there is an issue of fact regarding actual malice, we agree with petitioner that the Court of Appeals erred by upholding summary judgment,” Waller wrote.