Celske and Frye exonerated in court
Associate Circuit Judge Raymond Conklin reviewed three days of testimony, numerous exhibits, and testimony by both the defendents (Lee Celske and Michael Frye) and plaintiffs (Dennis Taylor, Tony Rees, Vicki Beckey) to decide whether Lee Celske and Michael Frye had intentionally defamed the accounting firm in a press release and caused loss of business back in August of 2005.
Judge Conklin stated,"It is the court's opinion that Frye made statements contained in the press release in good faith, believed them to be true and in fact was at least partially true. His opinion was just that, his opinion. Frye's misstatements were, at worst, negligent misstatements and therefore, non-actionable."
As for the defamation claims against Celske in complaints to the Illinois Certified Public Accountant Society, and Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, the judge asserted that Celske, in his capacity as mayor of the city of Aledo, made the complaints because he thought the city was wronged by the Plaintiff. "These complaints he filed were, in the Court's opinion, reasonably related to Celske's duties as mayor. As such, he is entitled to the protections afforded by executive privilege."
The judge stated "the plaintiff has not proven any actual damages. ... "Any expectation of continuing business with Aledo is suspect and simply cannot form the basis of a damage claim. The plaintiff also claims loss of business with the many Frye entities. It is somewhat incongruous to level accusations against one Frye (whether deserved or not) and then claim as damages the withdrawal of businesses owned by various members of the Frye family."
The plaintiffs' claim of loss of business was not proven based on loss of clients named Shave and Truman, "but there was no evidence of how those accounts were connected to this litigation," the judge's opinion stated.
As far as anticipated growth in the accounting firm's business which had been reduced by the city of Aledo, Fryes, Shave and Truman accounts, the judge said these accounts "can not be part of a damage claim." He stated "Anticipated continued increase in revenues is reasonable if one is selling widgets in a constantly expanding economy."
The judge said the plaintiff's claims for damages failed and he ruled against all charges made by the plaintiffs and was in favor of the defendents.