Judge approves sanctions in dismissed libel lawsuit
December 23, 2021
BUFFALO — The Patriot Conservatives of Johnson County Political Action Committee has been ordered to pay nearly $9,000 in sanctions for forcing unneeded defendants to appear in court for a hearing.
In an order issued Dec. 8, Fourth Judicial District Judge William Edelman ordered the PAC to pay $8,942 in sanctions to the defendants and defense counsel because the plaintiff’s attorney failed to dismiss charges against uninvolved parties after he was made aware that those parties were not involved.
The conservative PAC filed the suit in the Fourth Judicial District Court on Aug. 16. The suit alleged that the defendants, Weiser Signal American Inc., the Buffalo Bulletin Inc., Pronghorn Publishing Inc., and Frontier Newspapers Inc., and Eclipse Media, Inc. published “false defamatory articles and ads.”
A motion filed by Chris Wages, attorney for the Buffalo Bulletin, sought sanctions against the plaintiff’s attorney, Nick Beduhn, and the Patriot Conservatives of Johnson County for Beduhn’s failure to drop the complaint against four uninvolved entities after Wages made him aware of the mistake.
Wages said that Beduhn’s failure to do so had resulted in the Weiser Signal American Inc. having to expend time and legal fees to defend itself against a lawsuit it was wrongly named in.
In a motion hearing Nov. 10, Wages told the court he had contacted Beduhn directly in a letter on Sept. 2 to inform him that the suit had named entities that are unrelated to the alleged libel. Wages wrote, “Based upon your lack of due diligence, you have caused economic harm to Weiser Signal American, Inc. and a delay in these proceedings. I contend that a modicum of effort on your part would have avoided this damage. I will seek sanctions against you, and whatever other remedies are available, if you do not immediately correct these easily avoidable errors.”
Edelman dismissed the complaint against defendants Weiser Signal American Inc., the Buffalo Bulletin Inc., Pronghorn Publishing Inc., and Frontier Newspapers Inc. because either the entities no longer exist or there is no nexus — or connection — between any actions taken by the defendants and any injury alleged by the plaintiff.
Because there is no connection between the defendants and Eclipse Media Inc., publisher of the Buffalo Bulletin newspaper, there is no relief that the court could grant.
Edelman found that sanctions were appropriate “given the conduct of the Plaintiff and the act of forcing unneeded defendants to appear for the hearing on November 10, 2021.”
Beduhn also sued the governor and state health officials earlier this year, disputing all COVID-19 orders and restrictions in Wyoming. The suit was dismissed two months later by Edelman on a variety of procedural issues. Edelman ruled that petitioners lacked standing in the case because there is no direct connection between the health orders and any alleged injuries plaintiffs may have suffered, among other reasons.
In 2017, the Wyoming Supreme Court issued two orders suspending Beduhn from practicing law for a total of two and a half years. The Wyoming State Bar said Beduhn violated his professional duties of “competence, diligence, and maintaining communication with clients.”