After initially demanding $2 million and then, shortly before trial, asking for $300,000, a plaintiff accepted $5,000 to settle a defamation case, according to an attorney for one of the defendants in the case.
“I would call $5,000 on a defamation case a victory,” said Shaun Blake of Rogers Lewis Jackson Mann & Quinn in Columbia, who defended Carolinas Community Hospice Inc., in West Columbia.
Sidney Brooks accused staffers at Carolinas Community Hospice and Quillen Manor, an assisted living facility in Fountain Inn, of falsely accusing him of beating and sexually abusing his wife and giving her a sexually transmitted disease, according to Blake. Brooks’ wife was a resident of Quillen Manor at the time.
The staffers reported their concerns to the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office, which arrested Brooks, spurring the South Carolina Department of Social Services to take custody of Brooks’ wife. He wasn’t allowed to see her for 10 months while he was facing charges. The protective order was lifted after the criminal case was dismissed, according to Blake.
He said his client “wouldn’t have anything to do with” the initial and pretrial settlement offers “and told us to go try the case.”
Brooks argued that the “law in South Carolina would rather have people raise their concerns and participate openly in investigations, than be worried about being sued for defamation.” He added that state law “recognizes an absolute privilege for statements that bear reasonable relation to judicial proceedings.”
An attorney for Brooks, V. Elizabeth Wright of Greenville, declined an interview request, writing in an email that the settlement terms are confidential.
Blake said Brooks agreed to accept $5,000 to settle his case against Carolinas Community Hospice on the second morning of trial. He said Quillen settled with Brooks for $10,000 later the same day.
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SETTLEMENT REPORT – SLANDER AND LIBER PER SE
Amount: $5,000 from Carolinas Community Hospice and $10,000 from Quillen Manor
Injuries alleged: Loss of reputation, family relationship
Case name: Sidney George Brooks v. Quillen Manor, LLC and Carolinas Community Hospice Inc.
Court: Greenville County Circuit Court
Case No.: 2015-CP-23-07190
Judge: R. Scott Sprouse
Date of settlement: June 12
Demand: $2 million initially and $300,000 before trial
Attorneys for plaintiff: V. Elizabeth Wright and Wayne Patterson, both of Greenville
Attorneys for defendants: Shaun Blake and Jenkins Mann of Rogers Lewis Jackson Mann & Quinn of Columbia for Carolinas Community Hospice; Richard “Trey” Jones and Gerald Chambers of Turner Padget Graham and Laney in Columbia for Quillen