Hearing set in couple’s suit against Fred Weber Inc.

An Oakville couple seeking damages from a local company for alleged “malicious prosecution” could find out next week if evidence inadvertently given to them by that company will be included in court.

St. Louis City Circuit Court Judge David L. Dowd is scheduled to determine Monday, Oct. 6, if Oakville residents Tom and Barbara Diehl will be permitted to use “inadvertently produced documents” given to them by Fred Weber Inc.

Dowd had ruled Aug. 29 in favor of Weber’s motion “to compel return of inadvertent production” and ordered the Diehls “to proceed in litigation as if they had never obtained, seen or read the LRF e-mail and shall not refer to the LRF e-mail in any manner whatsoever at any time in the future.”

Tom Diehl filed a motion Sept. 10 to reconsider that ruling.

While the hearing on “inadvertently produced documents” is set next week, the court later will consider a Sept. 17 petition from Diehl attorney Michael D. Quinlan requesting a jury trial for the court to reconsider Dowd’s granting of summary judgment to Weber to dismiss two counts brought by the Diehls against Weber.

On Sept. 12, Dowd ordered in favor of Weber’s motion to dismiss another count against Weber. The judge ordered the Diehls’ “claim for emotional distress in Count I … is dismissed for failure to state a cause of action.”

The Diehls filed suit in 2005 against Fred Weber Inc. seeking more than $50,000 in damages. The four-count lawsuit against Weber alleges intentional infliction of emotional distress, malicious prosecution, abuse of process and a prima facie tort in connection with its original suit in 2004 against Tom Diehl. Weber’s original $5 million suit against Tom Diehl for alleged libel and defamation was dismissed in March 2005 by the Eastern District of the Missouri Court of Appeals. Also, the state Supreme Court refused to hear the case in June 2005.

A representative of the American Civil Liberties Union told a panel of Missouri legislators in July 2004 that Weber’s lawsuit against Tom Diehl was “a classic SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) suit.” But attorneys for Fred Weber told that same panel that the lawsuit was not a SLAPP suit, but rather a legitimate defamation and libel lawsuit.