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Railroad Owner Sues Upton Official for Slander

The owner of the Grafton & Upton Railroad has filed a $20 million lawsuit against a former Upton official, accusing her of slander, the Milford Daily News reports.

Jon Delli Priscoli filed the suit in Middlesex Superior Court, claiming that former selectwoman and Board of Health candidate Marsha Paul slandered him to the media. Paul denies the allegations.

Priscoli accuses Paul of "slander and libel for false malicious statements," over a series of concerns she voiced in public and to news outlets about Priscoli's railroad.

In one instance, the lawsuit alleges that Paul told the Daily News in 2008 she was "concerned because the railroad passes by two schools in town," and would potentially create "big traffic jams" during the morning rush hour.

Prisoli's suit claims that Priscoli has suffered "irreparable harm, both personally and reputation wise in the community" as a result of the alleged slander. The suit is seeking $20 million in unspecified damages.

Slander is a form of defamation made orally to another person or persons. Generally, a plaintiff must prove the following elements in order to recover in a defamation action:

  • Defendant made a false or defamatory statement concerning the plaintiff.
  • Defendant made an unprivileged publication to a third party.
  • Plaintiff's standing or reputation was damaged by the publication.

Priscoli's claim that his reputation and standing in the community have been irreparably damaged by Paul's statements seems questionable, as the statements generally deal with concerns over Priscoli's railroad and not Priscoli himself. If it's true that the railroad passes two schools, Paul's statement isn't defamatory but a statement of fact.

Marsha Paul was taken aback by Jon Delli Priscoli's allegations of slander and denies their veracity. "I've never said anything negative about this man," Paul said. "I really am shocked. I've never, ever said anything unfactual about [him]."

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