(CN) – The Kentucky Court of Appeals granted a condominium owner the chance to prove that the attorney of his condo board slandered him in a letter to the Kentucky attorney general.
Edward Flint owns a condominium in The Coach House, and he suspected that the board was misspending the association’s funds.
Flint asked the board of directors for the opportunity to look at the financial records for three hours per day, three or four days per week. The board refused.
Flint complained to the Kentucky attorney general, and he claims he was slandered by the counter-argument from the board’s attorney, Dennis Stilger. “The reasons for the restrictions were unflattering to Flint,” according to the ruling.
The trial court agreed with Stilger that his letter to the attorney general was a response to Flint’s, and thus Stilger was entitled to absolute privilege. It granted summary judgment to Stilger.
But Judge Michael Caperton of the state appeals court did not agree that the case was a slam dunk. Instead, he called it a “novel issue of law.”
“Flint’s letter was clearly an appeal to prosecute and Stilger responded in kind. The Attorney General’s office was, at this juncture, undertaking an investigation and had not made known whether it would pursue a judicial remedy,” Caperton wrote.
“We find this to be more akin to an investigation than to an action necessarily preliminary to judicial proceedings. Accordingly, we hold that Stilger’s letter was only entitled to a qualified privilege, which may be overcome by a showing of malice,” he added.
Caperton remanded the case for the trial court to determine whether Stilger’s letter was written with malice.