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Dan Camphausen v. Doreen Schweitzer and Ronald May

September 27, 2011

DAN CAMPHAUSEN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DOREEN SCHWEITZER AND RONALD MAY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Amy J. St. Eve United States District Court Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

AMY J. ST. EVE, District Court Judge:

On June 10, 2010, Plaintiff Dan Camphausen brought a three-count Complaint against Defendants Doreen Schweitzer and Ronald May based on the Court's diversity jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). In his Complaint, Camphausen alleges a defamation claim against Schweitzer (Count I) and defamation and invasion of privacy claims against May (Counts II and III). Before the Court is Schweitzer's motion for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56.*fn1 For the following reasons, the Court grants Schweitzer's motion and dismisses this lawsuit in its entirety against Defendants Schweitzer and May.

BACKGROUND

Doreen Schweitzer was married to Steve Schweitzer from 1975 until 2001. (R. 60, Def.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt. Facts ¶ 13.) In or about 2001, Steve Schweitzer became a client of Camphausen, who was employed by Advanced Equities, Inc. ("AEI"). (Id. ¶ 14.) During this time, Doreen Schweitzer also utilized Camphausen's brokerage services. (Id. ¶ 15.) The Schweitzers divorced in 2001, at which time Doreen Schweitzer (hereinafter "Schweitzer") continued to use Camphausen's brokerage services. (Id. ¶ 16.)

In 2005, Schweitzer began to question the profitability of her brokerage account and asked Camphausen for documentation about her account. (Id. ¶ 17.) Schweitzer and Camphausen engaged in communications concerning this issue, including one conversation that occurred on or around November 14, 2005 (the "November 2005 Conversation"). (Id. ¶ 18.) During the November 2005 Conversation, Schweitzer and Camphausen discussed the fact that Schweitzer was thinking about moving her account to a Merrill Lynch broker named Nick Photiadis because Photiadis told her she was losing money with Camphausen. (Id. ¶¶ 19, 20.) During their conversation, Camphausen told Schweitzer that Photiadis was wrong about Schweitzer losing money and told her to look at her brokerage reports to fully understand how her accounts were performing. (Id. ¶ 21.)

Meanwhile, Camphausen agrees that he had a problem with Photiadis and that he was insulted by the comments Photiadis and Merrill Lynch made about his trading practices. (Id. ¶¶ 25, 26.) Camphausen also agrees that he criticized Photiadis and made negative comments about Photiadis during his November 2005 conversation with Schweitzer. (Id. ¶ 28.) Camphausen, however, denies that he made a specific statement about Photiadis ending up at the "bottom of a river" during the November 2005 conversation. (Id. ¶¶ 29, 35; R. 65, Pl.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt. Facts

¶¶ 20, 21.) In December 2005, Schweitzer transferred her account to Merrill Lynch. (Id. ¶ 38; Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 5.)

Five years later, a group of former AEI customers -- all of whom had been clients of Camphausen -- initiated an arbitration related to alleged violations of federal and state securities laws in relation to investment funds in Alien Technologies (the "Alien Technologies Arbitration"). (Def.'s Stmt. Facts ¶¶ 39, 40.) Schweitzer, who was not an original plaintiff in the Alien Technologies Arbitration, was considering whether she wanted to become involved in it. (Id. ¶ 40.) Consequently, Schweitzer spoke to an attorney named William Anthony to gather more information about the Alien Technologies Arbitration. (Id. ¶ 41.) Anthony directed Schweitzer to an online newsletter known as "The May Report," which covered stories about Chicago technology. (Id. ¶ 42; Def.'s Ex. G, 2/12/10 May Report.)

On or about February 9, 2010, Schweitzer visited the "The May Report" website, but she was unable to navigate the website, so she contacted May, the publisher of "The May Report" by telephone. (Id. ¶ 43.) In that conversation, Schweitzer told May that Camphausen had made several comments about Photiadis including a statement about Photiadis ending up at the "bottom of the river." (Id. ¶ 46; Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 11.) After May spoke with Schweitzer, he published an edition of "The May Report" on or about February 12, 2010 that stated in part:

Doreen said that Dan Camphausen supposedly threatened the Merrill guy with unthinkable things like "You might end up in the bottom of the river." The issue was defamation by the ML guy and loss of the trust of his clients by Dan. I must tell you that in the early days of my looking into AEI, I had a few conversations with anonymous people, presumably AEI brokers which went along the same lines. It may just be a reflection of the wild and woolly world of trading and brokering. (Def.'s Stmt. Facts ¶ 60; Pl.'s Stmt. Facts ¶¶ 12, 17.)

SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A genuine dispute as to any material fact exists if "the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S. Ct. 2505, 2510, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202 (1986). In determining summary judgment motions, "facts must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party only if there is a 'genuine' dispute as to those facts." Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380, 127 S.Ct. 1769, 167 L.Ed.2d 686 (2007). The party seeking summary judgment has the burden of establishing that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S. Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d ...


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