The libel case Holmes Beach resident John Agnelli filed in October 2012 against Commissioner Jean Peelen appears headed back to the Manatee County Circuit Court and Judge Diana Moreland’s courtroom.
On Sept. 27, Florida’s 2nd District Court of Appeals denied Peelen’s appeal of the circuit court’s ruling that the libel case should proceed. The appellate court returned the case to the circuit court.
Moreland ruled in circuit court to deny Peelen’s standing as a city official in Agnelli’s lawsuit, and it was that decision that was appealed.
Jay Daigneault of the law firm of Frazier, Hubbard, Brandt, Trask and Yacavone, LLP, of Dunedin, was assigned last year by the Florida League of Cities property and liability claims division to represent Peelen based on the city’s insurance plan through FLC.
Daigneault, however, can appeal the appellate court ruling.
The suit is against Peelen as a citizen, but, according to attorney Kristina Hager Snyderman of the Mackey Law Group, which represents Agnelli, Peelen now has been denied legal representation as a government official. She cannot be defended by FLC counsel, and now will be forced to seek an attorney at her expense.
The case stems from an October 2012 email Peelen sent through her personal email account to constituents that made what Snyderman claims were disparaging and libelous comments about her client.
Peelen, however, said she had confused John Agnelli with his son Frank in her email, and she apologized to John Agnelli.
Agnelli pursued a libel case against Peelen, but later learned he could not sue Peelen in her capacity as an elected commissioner. He then sued Peelen personally.
Snyderman said if Daigneault does not file for a rehearing with the appellate court, the case will be returned to the Manatee court. She did not know how long it might take for the case to find it’s way to the circuit court schedule.
Efforts to reach Daigneault were unsuccessful.