Tennessee Lawmaker Drops Immunity Claim in Libel Suit

March 27, 2009

A Republican lawmaker in Tennessee has dropped claims of legislative immunity for comments he made on his personal blog that sparked a $750,000 libel lawsuit.

State Rep. Stacey Campfield of Knoxville was sued by Roger Byrge for falsely posting weeks before the election last fall that Byrge had been arrested several times on drug charges.

Democrat Byrge, a sheriff’s deputy, sued after he lost an open state House race to Republican Chad Faulkner in Campbell County.

Byrge’s attorney, David Dunaway, said that Campfield knew his legislative immunity did not extend to his blog, and he now has 30 days to offer a different defense.

Campfield’s lawyer, Arthur Knight, says his client’s comments may still be protected because Byrge is a public figure.

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