Court: Kieckhefer lawsuit against ex-opponent can move forward

The Nevada Supreme Court has ruled unanimously state Sen. Ben Kieckhefer’s defamation lawsuit against his former opponent can continue moving forward.

Kieckhefer sued Gary Schmidt charging he was defamed in a campaign ad that claimed Kieckhefer endorsed Harry Reid’s re-election in 2010.

Kieckhefer presented the Las Vegas SUN article Schmidt claims made that endorsement, showing he endorsed Sen. Bill Raggio for majority leader despite Raggio’s support for Reid, not that he supported Reid’s re-election.

Schmidt filed to dismiss the action arguing it was a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation — a SLAPP suit. Washoe District Judge Jerry Polaha denied the motion but Schmidt appealed.

The Supreme Court this week agreed with Polaha Kieckhefer could win his suit by showing Schmidt made the statement with malice.

“There is no rational way to read the Las Vegas SUN article without concluding that Kieckhefer supported Raggio for majority leader,” the order states. “Because one cannot rationally infer from this article that Kieckhefer supported Reid and there has been absolutely no other evidence presented that supports Schmidt’s statement, we conclude that he did not act in good faith when he claimed that Kieckhefer supported Reid.”

The high court’s seven members rejected Schmidt’s attempt to quash the lawsuit, which meant Kieckhefer can press his claim for damages.

Kieckhefer, a Republican, represents District 16 which includes south Reno and all of Carson City.


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