Chamber sued for defamation

Posted on May 19, 2016 by Romi White

A defamation lawsuit has been filed against the Navarre Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, Inc. and its CEO Judith Morehead.

The May 18 complaint filed by Tony Hughes, chairman of the chamber’s Military Affairs Council and president of Beach Community Bank, alleges Morehead made false allegations regarding Hughes to an “unknown number” of chamber board members.

“Ms. Morehead falsely asserted that Mr. Hughes had taken money out of the (chamber’s) Military Affairs Council’s bank account, held the funds personally and had been forced to return the funds upon their discovery,” states the complaint, noting one of Beach Community Bank’s officers and one of the bank’s customers, both of whom are chamber board members, were present.

The complaint also states that “As President of Beach Community Bank any imputation upon Mr. Hughes’ character for financial prudence and trustworthiness as a financial custodian is per se harmful to him both personally and professionally” and that “Ms. Morehead made the false claims against Mr. Hughes with negligence or reckless disregard as to their veracity.”

According to the complaint Hughes was “forced” to file suit against Morehead and the chamber because “Despite receiving notice of her defamatory statements and their falsity, Ms. Morehead has refused to retract her statements.

Hughes is seeking an order “finding the falsity of the statements made by NBAC’s President/CEO, and ordering NBAC to direct its President/CEO to publicly retract her false statements, for economic, compensatory and punitive damages, costs, interest and applicable attorney’s fees, and such other and further relief as the Court may deem just and proper.

The lawsuit also states the chamber organization “was aware of Ms. Morehead’s proclivity to make defamatory statements prior to her leveling accusations of wrongdoing at Mr. Hughes” in a section outlining “negligent supervision.”

When contacted this morning, Morehead was unable to comment about the complaint.

Hughes said he would let the complaint speak for itself.