Tue November 27, 2012
Former Alderman Bauer Loses Defamation Appeal
Nearly seven years later, the battle over the recall of former St. Louis alderman Tom Bauer is a step closer to final.
The Missouri Court of Appeals today threw out a $150,000 defamation verdict for fliers published against Bauer during his recall election in 2005.
Bauer was thrown out of office in September of that year, in part because of his support for a QuikTrip that would have required the use of eminent domain. The 24th Ward is south of Forest Park and includes Dogtown.
During the recall campaign, Randy Munton, the owner of a 7-Eleven a block from the proposed QuikTrip and a recall supporter, hung a flier in his window that listed "10 Reasons for a Bauer Recall." One of the reasons dealt with Bauer's decision to accept an offer for a Dogtown property from a favored developer that was lower than one made by a Dogtown resident.
Bauer sued, alleging defamation. The trial court agreed and awarded Bauer the $150,000 in damages. But the appeals court ruled that because Bauer was an elected official, he had to prove "actual malice" - that is, did Munton and the writer of the flier know that their claims about the sale of the property were false, or not do enough to determine if the statement was true. The three judges ruled that Bauer did not meet that threshold, and reversed the judgment.
Bauer ran for his old seat in the special election in December 2005, but lost to Bill Waterhouse. Bauer then beat Waterhouse by 12 votes in a Democratic primary in 2011, but was defeated in the general election by Scott Ogilvie, who now represents the ward.
Follow Rachel Lippmann on Twitter: @rlippmann