Visiting Judge James Brogan, Delaware County Common Pleas Court, on Monday granted Susan F. Tobias’ motion of “frivolous conduct” against Orange Township Fiscal Officer Joel Spitzer, who filed a $1.1 million lawsuit against her, township resident Todd Daviso and Trustee Lisa Knapp.
“The court finds that Spitzer’s lawsuit against Tobias was filed merely to harass her and that she is entitled to reasonable attorney fees under the statute,” states the court’s decision granting Tobias’ motion. “She is hereby awarded $585.00 in attorney fees.”
Spitzer’s Sept. 20, 2017, civil complaint alleges the two residents and trustee engaged in harassing him on social media accounts. He is requesting restraining orders against the parties and asking the judge to award him compensatory damages totaling approximately $1.1 million.
Tobias said it was very upsetting and emotional when Spitzer filed the suit naming her along Daviso and Knapp but said she was confident that she had done nothing wrong.
“The purpose of the law is not to bully people but to maintain social order and protect the people’s civil liberties and rights,” she said. “I was confident that the judge would see through the frivolousness and the lack of legal merit in the lawsuit.”
Tobias had filed a motion through her attorney on Oct. 24, 2017, with the court to dismiss Spitzer’s complaint against her. Her motion noted that not one of the post in the 29-page document of Facebook posts and texts submitted in support of Spitzer’s claim was from her.
According to court documents, Tobias’ motion for dismissal was granted Dec. 11, 2017, by the court.
According to Spitzer’s filing for the lawsuit: “Defendant Lisa Knapp acting alone and at times in concert with defendant Daviso, defendant Tobias and others have been making false and defamatory statements about the plaintiff for up to six years both on defendant Knapp’s personal blog and on her official trustee and personal Facebook pages.”
Photocopies provided in Spitzer’s filing show Knapp’s posts contain several newspaper articles and official documents from local entities involving Spitzer.
However, the comments and opinions posted around the articles and documents disparage Spitzer personally, professionally, and as an elected official, according to the complaint.
“It is not my desire to be in the news or the brunt of their attacks, I just want peace for my family,” Spitzer said in a text message Wednesday. “While I have been attacked vigorously, causing embarrassment and harm to my business, I was not found to have any recourse. I was finally pushed too far and decided to try a legal remedy.”
Knapp has claimed in the past that the suit is frivolous and is Spitzer’s attempt to shut her up.
“Not one thing that I’ve written or posted has not been from public records,” she has said in prior reports. “It’s freedom of speech. I’m allowed to say those things.”
“One down, and one to go,” Knapp said Wednesday about Tobias’ motion being granted.
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.