A defamation-of-character lawsuit between two Forest Park residents and Commissioner Mark Hosty ended in Cook County Court on Monday when both parties agreed to the case’s dismissal.
The dismissal marks the end of nearly two years of legal wrangling between Hosty and the plaintiffs, Gloria Backman and Amanda O’Connor. Backman and O’Connor sued Hosty in 2009 for comments he made about the women to the Forest Park Review; both Backman and O’Connor claimed their reputations were harmed subsequent to Hosty’s remarks.
Hosty told the Review in May 2009 that Backman and O’Connor were “stalking” him and his family, a statement he denies making. This alleged comment was in response to questioning about a police report O’Connor filed earlier that month, when Hosty allegedly screamed at Backman and O’Connor after an altercation near the commissioner’s home in the 7400 block of Warren Street. The women were talking at the corner of Circle Avenue and Warren Street when Hosty approached them.
Hosty emailed the Review a document that outlined an agreement between the plaintiffs and Hosty to release each other from any and all claims. The agreement is not signed by anyone, though.
“They’ve received nothing,” said Hosty, in reference to what the plaintiffs got out of the case. Backman and O’Connor originally sought $50,000 in damages.
“The only thing they’ve received is that I won’t sue Amanda or Gloria for anything resulting from this,” he added.
“This [agreement] is basically because I’m sick and tired of lawyers,” Hosty said.
The Review put in a formal request with the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County on Wednesday and is waiting for numerous court papers that have not been filed. Because of this, specific information about recent case activity is limited.
Backman said she was “satisfied” with the outcome of the case, but offered little more when the Review called for comment. Her co-plaintiff, O’Connor, could not be reached.
Hosty said the dismissal “leads me to believe that it was a case about nothing.”
“In the end, a whole lot of legal fees were spent for nothing,” he said.
Backman and her husband, Steve, live down the block from Hosty. They have been vocal critics of the commissioner for some time.
In 2008, Hosty accused Steve Backman of trespassing on his property. The allegations came after Backman took pictures of Hosty’s home and placed them on the Internet in an attempt to point out that Hosty had skirted building permit requirements while renovating his home. The charge against Backman was dropped and the village did not penalize Hosty.
“I have to stop and think if this was politically motivated,” Hosty said. “There was no desire to settle the case until the election was over … I can’t help but speculate that that had a factor.”
Hosty was re-elected to a fourth term on the village board in April.
Charles Lee Mudd Jr., the attorney for both Backman and O’Connor called Hosty’s claim “100 percent erroneous.”
“My clients actually tried to resolve this matter in June 2009,” Mudd said. “They wanted a retraction and an apology … and he refused.”
The lawsuit was filed in October 2009. According to Mudd, the plaintiffs initially attempted to resolve the matter before going to court.
In a later conversation with the Review, Hosty conceded that an offer was made prior to litigation, but the request from O’Connor and Backman was not “reasonable.”
“No productive negotiations occurred until after the election,” said Hosty.