The Chicago Personal Injury Law Blog

Couple Accused Of Being 'Swingers' Wins Defamation Suit

An Aurora couple accused of being swingers was awarded $54,000 in damages by a Will County Judge, according to the Chicago Tribune. And by "swingers," we don't mean 40s-era jazz enthusiasts but married couples that enjoy swapping partners for sexual encounters with other married couples.

Donald Howard and Tia Howard filed a defamation lawsuit against neighbor Amy Day last year. She was found liable for sending defamatory emails to their other neighbors and to the staff of their children's elementary school, claiming the couple were swingers and enjoyed "nude hot tub parties."

The fact that it's none of Amy Day's business is beside the point. Since the best defense to a defamation claim is the truth, it's fair to say there probably wasn't much behind the accusations.

The Howards' Illinois injury lawyer wrote Amy Day and her sister, whose account she allegedly used to send the emails, demanding that they retract the statements and publicly apologize. When they refused, Donald and Tia Howard filed suit.

As many as 200 people received the unsigned emails, according to the complaint. The email also implicated other families but only singled out the Howards by name:

"We have several 'swinging families' with children that go to our schools. If you are not familiar with that term, which I was not, it means that couples get together and swap spouses."

Judge Michael Powers granted a default judgment after neither of the two women contested the charges but he declined to award punitive damages (usually sought for particularly heinous claims). 

Friends of their two children canceled play dates and declined party invitations after the emails were sent, the complaint states. Since their two kids are adopted, the couple is concerned the defamatory emails might hurt future adoption efforts.

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