Stephanie Porter-Nichols and Daniel Gilbert report:
The Smyth County News & Messenger has responded to a $1 million defamation lawsuit by a Chilhowie woman, arguing that the article in controversy was a “substantially accurate” report of a court record and a police statement.
The newspaper filed the response last Friday in Smyth County Circuit Court and is asking a judge to dismiss the lawsuit filed in January by Melissa Trail.
Trail, a former employee and union leader at the General Dynamics plant in Marion, was indicted in March 2009 for fraudulently obtaining the personal information of company employees with the intent to distribute it. The charges were dropped in September, and in November a Marion man was convicted of the identity theft of 50 or more people.
With the pending criminal charges dismissed, Trail has fired back with separate lawsuits against General Dynamics for malicious prosecution, and against the Smyth County News & Messenger for defaming her in an article reporting on her indictment.
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