Troy mayor files answer to campaign lawsuit against her

Troy Mayor Robin Oda and her re-election committee have filed an answer to a lawsuit by a Troy lawyer who claims he was defamed by statements made in Oda campaign materials.

Jeremy Tomb filed the complaint in Miami County Common Pleas Court against Oda plus the Citizens Electing Robin Oda for Mayor in care of Matthew and Cynthia Post of Troy and Lydia Matthews of Troy. The complaint was filed April 28.

Oda was re-elected May 2 by 31 votes, according to final election results from the county board of elections.

Tomb’s lawsuit centers on a campaign mailer postcard sent to Troy residents the week before the election. The mailer calling for votes against Oda opponent William Lutz listed alleged reasons to support those votes including a claim that “He shamelessly accepted money from a lawyer who’s suing the city.”

Tomb claims the statement in the mailer paid for by Citizens Electing Robin Oda is “a blatant lie knowingly made by the Citizens Electing Robin Oda for the dual purposes of harming Tomb and seeking some benefit from the lies for Oda’s struggling re-election campaign.” The suit claims the statement was made with Oda’s approval.

Oda initially said she had no comment on the lawsuit.

She and the others sued filed an answer with the court in late May.

They claim any statements made were expressions of opinion and covered by freedom of expression.

“The plaintiff’s complaint is barred by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees every citizen the freedom of expression in political speech and matters of public interest,” the answer states.

Those named in the suit also claim that Tomb was not identified directly or indirectly in any materials

Although not named specifically in the mailer, Tomb said in his complaint that the statement points to him because the Lutz campaign donor list includes three lawyers including him. The materials claim the lawyer is suing the city. Tomb said he is not suing the city but is involved as a plaintiff along with the city in the legal action involving the Tavern building 112-118 W. Main St. in Troy.\The lawsuit further claims that Matthews in a letter to the editor to the local newspaper allegedly made false statements including “Biggest contributor? The family of the attorney suing the city of Troy over the 1903 Oddfellow building,” a term at times used to refer to the 112-118 W. Main St. property.

The letter was re-published by Oda on her Facebook page, the suit claims.

Tomb alleges those being sued conspired to make and publish false statements about him “for the purpose of defaming (him),” causing him economic harm and emotional stress and damaging his reputation.

The lawsuit seeks in excess of $25,000 in compensatory damages plus punitive damages. Tomb asks for a trial by a jury.

Oda, her campaign and Matthews also seek a jury trial.

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