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Pair claims Boardman levy ad damaged reputation



Published: Sat, July 28, 2012 @ 12:10 a.m.

By Ashley Luthern

aluthern@vindy.com

BOARDMAN

A lawsuit is pending against the levy committee that advocated passage of a Boardman police levy in August 2011, with the plaintiffs claiming their reputation was damaged by campaign literature.

Atty. James Gentile filed the civil case in Mahoning County

Common Pleas Court on behalf of Larry Barnes and Lisa Barnes, of 7005 Lockwood Blvd., and

summonses were mailed this week to defendants, who call the suit “an insult to law-abiding citizens of Boardman.”

The lawsuit alleges that the Barneses ’ reputation was damaged when the Boardman Coalition Against Crime, the police levy committee, printed materials with the title “Meet Your Neighbors” and displayed the mug shots of two criminals from Boardman.

It also contained text that said, in part, “Criminals are settling in our neighborhoods, running drug houses, and committing

burglaries and robberies.”

One of the mug shots in the mailer was identified as “R. Barnes” of “Lockwood Blvd. in Boardman,” according to the lawsuit.

It refers to Robert Barnes, 31, who was sentenced to 13 years in prison after pleading guilty to one count of robbery and two counts of aggravated robbery and kidnapping.

He is the son of Larry Barnes and brother of Lisa Barnes, Gentile said.

The Vindicator checked online court records for Robert Barnes and found that his address was listed two ways: The Mahoning County Justice Center or 7005 Lockwood Blvd. in Boardman.

“It’s a privacy case. ...This is not what you would characterize as a defamation case. Their conduct put my people in a false light,” said Gentile, who also represented Robert Barnes during criminal proceedings.

The suit filings state that

although the campaign materials did not list the street number, “the plaintiffs’ address is well-known to the public. Defendants’ only goal was to get the police levy passed at any cost, including damaging the reputation of law-abiding citizens of the community.”

George Farris, a member of the Boardman Coalition Against Crime, defended the levy committee.

“This suit is an insult to law-abiding citizens in Boardman. The story of Robert Barnes’ crimes was blasted all over TV, newspapers and online. Our little mailer came out after and had no details,” Farris said.

“It never mentioned Larry Barnes, so how can it damage his reputation? I do feel bad for Mr. Barnes. But if his reputation was damaged, it was damaged by his son, not our community volunteers,” he continued.

Farris is chief executive of Farris Marketing, which also is a defendant in the lawsuit. Others named as defendants are “United Against Crime,” which was a slogan used by the Boardman Coalition Against Crime on its signs; the Mahoning County Board of Elections, which was listed as the return address for some materials; and Jane and John Doe entities, which Farris said he believes refers to everyone who displayed the “Meet Your Neighbors” materials.

The suit demands a jury trial, and the plaintiffs are seeking more than $25,000.


Comments

1southsidedave(4777 comments)posted 1 year, 12 months ago

All of this for only $25,000? Must not have much of a reputation.

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2Not_Gilligans_Ginger(126 comments)posted 1 year, 12 months ago

Neither of the plaintiffs are R. Barnes. How did this ruin his parents reputation? Oh, I understand, they live in BOARDMAN and nobody in BOARDMAN commits felonies. Yes, mom and dad, your son f***ed up in a big way, is residing in a prison and left YOU behind to feel the shame of HIS actions. You should be suing your son, nobody else, especially since his address was a matter of public record as was his criminal record. Too bad people like this clog up our court dockets.

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3kensgirl(572 comments)posted 1 year, 12 months ago

I think just the opposite is true. If it had been a high profile person the media would have jumped on it immediately. Look at what was said about Titus - AFTER his death. Everyone is fair game anymore. You're open to the media no matter who you are, even when you're dead.

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4walter_sobchak(1847 comments)posted 1 year, 12 months ago

Let's sum this up: Robert Barnes gets 13 yrs in the pen for serious crimes and his father and sister want over $25K because others merely use the truth in some advertizing. Here is some sound advice: STFU, hide in shame, and get on with your own lives.

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5rmzrez(114 comments)posted 1 year, 12 months ago

Just another low life lawyer trying to suck money out of the system .

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6ncst(12 comments)posted 1 year, 12 months ago

Dont do felonies and you wont have to worry about ruining your reputation. Then also wont have to worry about being emberassed. Give me a BREAK!!!

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