COVERING THE COURTS: Appeals court says official partially liable

By  | 

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A Wisconsin appeals court says a county administrator is partially liable for making defamatory statements about a former employee.

The 3rd District Court of Appeals on Tuesday ruled former Barron County Administrator Duane Hebert is liable for defaming Gene Anderson, former patrol superintendent for the county's highway department. But the appeals court disagreed with the Barron County Circuit Court's judge's decision to fine Hebert $150,000, and reduced the penalty to $50,000.

The dispute began after Anderson sued Hebert for openly making defamatory statements about his job performance in 2008. Hebert argued he was immune from the lawsuit because he made the remarks at a county board meeting. The appeals court disagreed, finding he had no legislative privilege to make the comments.

Hebert's attorney had no immediate comment.