Attorneys defending the Beaver Countian against a defamation lawsuit have filed a motion asking the court to compel a group of politicos from Economy Borough to file a formal complaint.

Attorneys Jonathan B. Skowron and Keith E. Whitson, with the law firm of Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP, are defending the Beaver Countian against a lawsuit alleging defamation filed by former Economy Borough Bipartisan Committee Treasurer Richard Lapinski (husband of former Economy Borough Councilwoman Michelle Lapinski), George E. Fiztgerald (who campaigned for Mayor of Economy Borough), and Mary Jo Sivy (who campaigned for Tax collector).

While the politicos sent written statements to the Beaver County Times about their lawsuit back on May 15th, and their attorney gave interviews about the matter, the group failed to file an actual complaint detailing their allegations of defamation in the case.

Attorneys for the Beaver Countian contacted attorney William J. Labovitz, who is representing the politicos in the case, back in June after the complaint failed to materialize. Attorney Labovitz said he would have a complaint filed by the middle of July, but failed to follow through on that representation.

Attorneys Skowron and Whitson filed a “Praecipe For Rule To File Complaint” on behalf of the Beaver Countian today, effectively giving the Economy Borough politicos 20 days to file a formal complaint or face having their lawsuit thrown out of court.

Economy Borough Mayor David Poling and Beaver County Democratic Party Chairman Michael “Doc” Sisk were also separately named as defendants in the defamation suit and have retained their own counsel. The Economy Borough politicos filed their defamation lawsuit, and went to the Beaver County Times, just days before May’s primary election which saw seats on the Economy Borough Democratic Committee up for grabs.

The Beaver Countian has previously published a lengthy editorial about the lawsuit titled “A Slaphappy Lawsuit From A Merry Band Of Fools” that provides extensive background into the dispute.

A defense for the Beaver Countian was arranged by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the world’s leading digital civil rights organization. The EFF was founded in 1990 to ensure that rights and freedoms are enhanced and protected as our use of technology grows. The international nonprofit organization champions causes of user privacy, free expression, and innovation through impact litigation, policy analysis, grassroots activism, and technology development.

The EFF is currently leading litigation against the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance program in conjunction with efforts by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). A staff member for the organization is now serving as the “digital bodyguard” for Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Glenn Greenwald, helping to secure source material provided to the reporter by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis has more than 180 attorneys in seven offices nationwide, with clients ranging from large, international corporations to individual entrepreneurs in the United States and around the world. The firm’s expertise in First Amendment law is well documented — Attorneys with Schnader recently teamed with the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania (ACLU) to challenge, on behalf of The Philadelphia Inquirer and The (Harrisburg) Patriot-News, a Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) policy that prevented members of the press selected to witness lethal injection executions from seeing and hearing the entirety of the execution. The firm’s litigation resulted in changes to state policy that now permits reporters to see and hear inside the execution chamber from the time an inmate enters until he or she is declared dead.


    • Your reading comprehension, and mine must be vastly different. Nowhere in there did I see anything like that. What he was explaining (how I understand it) is that JP has been under threat of lawsuit since May, but a formal complaint was never filed by the people alleging defamation, and until that formal complaint is filed, this lawsuit will just sit there, in effect wasting JP’s and his lawyers time. The complainants lawyer claimed it would be filed by a certain date, and they failed to follow through.
      JP and his legal council have every right to ask the courts to compel the opposing lawyers to file this formal complaint by a certain date, or risk the lawsuit against the Beavercountian being thrown out of court. In essence, the lawyers dragging their feet and not filing in a timely manner is a huge waste of time, for the courts, the lawyers, and all parties involved.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if they were purposely dragging their feet in the hopes that if they wasted enough time, JP’s legal council would have to move on to other lawsuits and projects, thereby leaving JP up that proverbial creek without a paddle when they did decide to FINALLY get around to filing the formal complaint.



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