Federal Court Denies Motion to Dismiss Defamation Case Against City of Vallejo
--Allegations stem from the 2015 kidnapping of Denise Huskins,
which police falsely accused Huskins of faking--
San Francisco, CA – The United States District Court for the Eastern District of California has denied multiple motions to dismiss a defamation case against the City of Vallejo and two members of the Vallejo Police Department. Plaintiffs Aaron Quinn and Denise Huskins filed a lawsuit alleging that Lieutenant Kenny Park and Detective Matthew Mustard falsely and publicly accused the couple of faking Huskins’ kidnapping and wasting city resources, which caused the plaintiffs emotional and physical distress as well as financial loss.
“The allegations presented in this lawsuit are significant and have had a serious and negative effect on Denise and Aaron’s lives,” said Plaintiff’s Counsel James Wagstaffe, Founding Partner at Kerr & Wagstaffe LLP, a San Francisco-based litigation and appellate firm. “This is an important milestone in this particular case, as well as for all people who have been the victims of crimes and have not been fairly treated by the system that is supposed to protect them.”
The lawsuit alleges that after Huskins was kidnapped in 2015, the Vallejo Police Department disregarded evidence, immediately focused on Quinn as a suspect and attempted to secure media attention on the case, alleging that the couple had faked the kidnapping and “owed the city an apology for plundering resources on the investigation.” Months later, the real perpetrator was accused and later sentenced to 40 years in prison.
The defendants responded to the lawsuit by arguing that they had absolute immunity and that the plaintiffs had failed to meet the standards of defamation and infliction of emotional distress. They also attempted to have the case dismissed through an anti-SLAPP motion. The court rejected the majority of the defense’s arguments, only granting a dismissal of Huskins’ defamation claim against Park and a dismissal of a claim of false arrest and imprisonment, which the plaintiffs did not intend to make.
The plaintiffs are represented by James Wagstaffe, Kevin Clune, Kenneth Nabity and Laura Seegal of Kerr & Wagstaffe LLP.
Kerr & Wagstaffe LLP, a San Francisco-based litigation and appellate firm, represents clients both as plaintiffs and defendants in commercial disputes, intellectual and trade secret matters, insurance policy holder rights, constitutional law, defamation and first amendment lawsuits, employment and employee-related litigation, environmental and land use disputes and professional liability and ethics.
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