Gavel

It has been more than two months since a federal judge dismissed a $10 million lawsuit against Hubbard Radio bought by former hot AC “The Mix” WTMX Chicago morning show co-host Melissa McGurren, who claimed the company defamed her when it responded to her harassment charges against former co-host Eric Ferguson. But a similar defamation suit against Hubbard filed by former WTMX assistant producer Cynthia DeNicolo continues to make its way through U.S. District Court in Chicago.

Both complaints accused the company of defamation in its responses to harassment charges brought by the two former employees against former “Mix” co-host Eric Ferguson. But while the accusations against Hubbard are similar, the statements made by the company are different, DeNicolo argues in a series of court filings.

In a March 1 ruling in the McGurren case, Judge Ronald Guzman found Hubbard Chicago VP/Market Manager Jeff England’s comments non-actionable statements of opinion that did not fall into any of the five categories that Illinois law deems to be defamatory. Three days later Hubbard asked the court to adopt Guzman’s ruling from the McGurren case and toss DeNicolo’s separate $10 million defamation lawsuit against the broadcaster. Hubbard argued that DeNicolo’s allegations “are nearly identical” to those made in the now-dismissed McGurren suit, attaching a copy of Guzman’s ruling to its pleading.

But DeNicolo’s attorneys raised a red flag, asking the court in late March to reject Hubbard’s request, saying the statements it made following her allegations against Ferguson were “distinct and must be evaluated independently.”

Since then, there has been a volley of motions made by each party in U.S. District Court in Chicago. DeNicolo filed a motion opposing Hubbard’s motion to dismiss her case. Hubbard in turn replied to DeNicolo’s motion in support of its own filing to toss the case. DeNicolo on May 9 reasserted her earlier position that the decision by another judge in another case is not relevant to her complaint. In a response to Hubbard’s latest filing, in which it asked the court to notice the recent ruling that denied McGurren’s request for her case to be reconsidered, DeNicolo argues that the decision in the McGurren case “has no force in this case.” Her lawyer (who also represents McGurren) makes the argument that Hubbard’s “defamatory statements are distinct and must be evaluated independently.” So, while the judge in McGurren’s case denied her motion for reconsideration, that isn’t relevant in DeNicolo’s case, “because the alleged defamatory statements are distinct,” the filing says. “DeNicolo is entitled to a ruling based on the facts in her case,” it adds, and the rulings in the McGurren case – to both dismiss the suit and not reconsider it – are based on a different statement and don’t prove anything with regard to DeNicolo’s case.