A court has dismissed Senator Louise Lucas’ (D-Portsmouth) defamation lawsuit against Tim Anderson, GOP candidate for the 83rd House of Delegates district. Lucas had sought $20 million in damages alleging that Anderson had falsely said that Lucas caused citizens to pull down the Portsmouth Confederate monument in June 2020.
In a Facebook statement Wednesday, Anderson said, “An elected official suing a citizen who is sharply criticizing the officials actions is not a cause of action for Defamation under Virginia law. Today the Court agreed.”
Proving defamation against public officials is more difficult than against private citizens.
“A public official can have a case for defamation only in rare instances,” Anderson’s attorney Bill Hurd argued, according to Wavy.com.
Lucas’ attorney Verbena Askew argued that Anderson’s statements were malicious, and said Lucas would appeal. “He [Anderson] accused the senator of committing a felony, a misdemeanor and using Taliban-like tactics,” Askew said according to Wavy.com, which reported that after the hearing, Anderson attempted to shake Lucas’ hand but was rebuffed.
Anderson said Lucas’ lawsuit against him inspired him to run for office.
“Being sued for $20 million by the leader of the Virginia Senate was a substantial reason why I decided to run for office,” he wrote on Facebook. “When I win the 83rd, Senator Lucas will have herself to thank for the loss of the Democrat majority in the House.”
“This race is no longer between me and Nancy Guy. I will be fighting Nancy Pelosi and Louise Lucas. This race is me against the Democrat establishment,” he said. “The Democrat party is going to do everything they can to keep me out of the seat. They will lose.”
Neither Hurd nor Askew responded to requests for comment by press time.
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