A Warrnambool businessman who sued independent state election candidate Carol Altmann for defamation is being paid out a substantial amount, plus costs, after the action was settled before the case reached a scheduled five-day trial in the County Court.
Cassign owner David Cassidy claimed his reputation was damaged in stories written by Ms Altmann and responsive comments posted by third parties on her Facebook page about signage work at aged care home Lyndoch Living, where his wife Sue is the board chair.
Mr Cassidy confirmed the outcome, which comes almost two years after the articles and comments were published in November 2020.
"I can now confirm that a defamation case claim I took against a local blogger has now been settled prior to court proceedings and I am very, very satisfied with the outcome," he said.
"The blogger (Ms Altmann) felt the need to write a number of articles regarding a new particular external illuminated sign on the new Swinton Wing development at Lyndoch Living in Warrnambool, that my business, Cassign, manufactured and installed.
"Unfortunately for the blogger, mentioning me personally and associating me ... was a no, no - defamatory - and I acted accordingly."
The Standard obtained the writ from the County Court which was lodged on June 11 last year.
It said the articles of Ms Altmann, writing as The Terrier in November 2020, taken together with the comments on the articles, suggested Mr Cassidy profited from a conflict transaction.
The writ particulars claimed:
- Mr Cassidy's business received improper preferment by reason of his marital relationship with a board member of Lyndoch, namely Sue Cassidy,
- That the plaintiff improperly was accessing funds from a charity, Lyndoch Living,
- Mr Cassidy was profiting from unnecessary expenditure on signage requisitioned by his wife, and
- That the unnecessary expenditure on signage came at the expense of worthy and necessary gardening staff who were dismissed for lack of funds.
The writ's attached documents included articles on Ms Altmann's website and public comments.
Mr Cassidy claimed the insinuation was that Cassign received the job as "one for the boys" according to comments and that the project wasn't tendered because he was the chair's husband.
"The signage wasn't tendered, as per Lyndoch Living protocols and instrument of delegation, so no tender is required under a certain amount," he said.
"Another local sign company did all the internal signage, which wasn't tendered either, but that was never mentioned."
He said the articles claimed the sign cost $30,000 when it actually cost $13,850.
"I have been supplying signage for Lyndoch for well over 30 years," Mr Cassidy said.
"I have only known my wife, Sue, for the past 20 years. A lot of signage has been supplied to Lyndoch over the years before Sue arrived on the Lyndoch Living board."
Mr Cassidy said he was never contacted by Ms Altmann.
"Not once. No phone call. No email. No text messages. Crickets," he said.
Ms Altmann was contacted for comment.
- CLARIFICATION: An earlier version of this article suggested the settlement of the action meant that Ms Altmann had been "successfully sued". The Standard wishes to emphasise that because the proceedings were settled, no findings were made against Ms Altmann by the court.
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