Judge finds no defamation in ex-Butte cop’s suit against county workers

2013-02-15T08:13:00Z 2013-02-15T21:15:04Z Judge finds no defamation in ex-Butte cop’s suit against county workersBy JOHN GRANT EMEIGH Montana Standard The Billings Gazette
February 15, 2013 8:13 am  • 

BUTTE — A judge has found that a former Butte police officer failed to prove any material evidence in his defamation lawsuit against three Butte-Silver Bow County employees.

The ruling by Butte District Judge Brad Newman effectively drops the lawsuit.

Former police officer Kent Fargher filed a lawsuit in 2011 against three health department employees claiming they made false statements against him during a police investigation. The lawsuit named as defendants Kathleen Nelson, Diane Snyder and Lori Rozan.

Fargher’s lawsuit claims the women gave false statements to officers while they investigated a police report that was alleged to have been leaked to employees at the health department in June 2010.

The judge’s decision, which was filed this week, granted the defendants’ motion, which found that there was no defamatory language directed at Fargher by the defendants.

“Speculation, inference and innuendo fall short of the stringent standard applied to defamation claims,” Newman wrote in the 14-page decision.

In Fargher’s defamation lawsuit, the defendants are accused of saying Fargher and his wife, Belinda Fargher, passed around an embarrassing police report concerning another health department employee.

This resulted in a criminal trial in April 2010 in which a six-member jury acquitted Kent Fargher of misdemeanor official misconduct.

Fargher followed by filing a lawsuit against the employees seeking an undisclosed amount of monetary damages.

With the judge’s ruling, the defendants will likely file a motion to have the case dismissed.

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