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updated: 8/28/2013 6:44 PM

Kane County drug court employee wants slander lawsuit dismissed

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A Kane County Drug Court supervisor, who is being sued for slander by another employee, wants a judge to dismiss the lawsuit.

Laurel Kling, who served on the Burlington-based Central 301 school board from 1999 to 2011, filed the lawsuit in May arguing that Drug Court Supervisor Carrie Thomas told co-workers Kling was "fired" from her post as school board president because Kling is "an alcoholic."

Assistant Illinois Attorney General Brian Cummings, who is representing Thomas because she is a state employee in the government's judicial branch, recently argued before Kane County Judge James Murphy that even if she made a statement about Kling, Thomas is protected for three reasons.

Cummings argued that Thomas: Was acting with the intent of public safety; has immunity because the statement was made at her discretion as a public official; is covered under the state lawsuit immunity act because she is a state employee.

"The defendant is not conceding the statement was made," Cummings said. "There's no allegation that she made this statement maliciously."

According to Kling's lawsuit, she took a psychological test in May 2012 that was required by the county for her to carry a firearm as part of her duties as a drug court probation officer. The lawsuit accused Thomas of telling the psychologist who administered the test and another supervisor that Kling was fired from the school board because "she was an alcoholic."

Kling and her attorney do not know when Thomas first allegedly made the statement. The lawsuit argues Thomas admitted in a March 15, 2013, meeting with other employees of the Court Services Department that she made a "false statement" about Kling in the past.

Robert Smith, Kling's attorney, argued the lawsuit should stand and he should be allowed to depose witnesses to find out when Thomas allegedly first made the statement.

"We just alleged it's a false, rotten, slanderous statement, period," Smith said. "It's definitely not part of the defendant's job description. It's a personal, private slander that occurred between two people who work together. We're disputing the whole veracity of the statement. She's not an alcoholic. She didn't get fired."

Murphy said Kling's lawsuit was "deficient as far as factual underpinnings" but gave both attorneys time to file additional written arguments. The case is due back in court Oct. 16.

Kling seeks a jury trial and more than $50,000 in damages.

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