Litigation Privilege and Legislative Privilege Preempt Defamation Action

Court: TN Court of Appeals


John R. Anderson and Joseph W. Dickson, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Bassam Issa.

Travis R. McDonough, Zachary H. Greene, and, Jack Benson, Jr., Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellee, Jack Benson, Sr.

Phillip A. Noblett and Patrick P.H. Bobo, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for Amicus Curiae, City of Chattanooga, in support of appellee, Jack Benson, Sr.


This appeal concerns alleged defamation and the applicability of both the legislative privilege and the litigation privilege. Bassam Issa (“Issa”), a developer seeking rezoning of certain real property, sued Chattanooga City Councilman Jack Benson, Sr. (“Benson”) in the Circuit Court for Hamilton County (“the Trial Court”). Issa alleged that, in two separate incidents, Benson had defamed him by accusing him of offering a bribe to influence Benson’s vote on the rezoning matter. Benson filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings, arguing that his statements were protected by the legislative privilege and the litigation privilege. The Trial Court granted Benson’s motion. Issa appeals. We affirm the judgment of the Trial Court.

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