In a time of massive Ponzi schemes and widespread financial turmoil, it is important for people to feel they can speak up when they believe that something improper is being done. The protection of free speech was given a big boost this past week with a $545,000 settlement, which wrapped-up over three-and-a-half years of court cases.
During that time, Elizabeth Enney lost both parents, survived a fifth heart surgery and paid more than $300,000 to defend herself against two libel lawsuits ultimately found to have been without any basis in law or fact. The lawsuits were described by Enney’s lawyer, Cynthia Counts, as “frivolous.”
The 11th Circuit scolded the plaintiffs who brought the suits, which tied Enney’s life into knots. The court stated in its decision that, “based on a reasonable inquiry, they either knew or should have know that they could not satisfy necessary elements of their cause of action for libel.” In other words, the lawsuit should never have been filed in the first place.
Enney’s saga began in July 2005, when she e-mailed the board of directors of the Rolls-Royce Owners’ Club, a non-profit corporation, regarding a “serious conflict of interest,” regarding a $9,000 payment the club made for a computer system.
One month later, Enney was named in a $1 million federal libel lawsuit filed in Connecticut by M.S. Koly and Delcath Systems. The libel portion of this lawsuit was dismissed due to lack of jurisdiction. But Enney was then named in a second $1 million lawsuit filed in the Northern District of her home state of Georgia, in July of 2006.
While others might back off, apologize and hope that the lawsuit would disappear, Enney said “I just look at it as my civic duty,” to stand up for what is right.
Enney comes from a long line of people who have loved and served their country. Her father, Kenneth Enney, served 33 years in the U.S. Navy as a naval aviator. Fulton Lewis, Jr., her maternal grandfather, was a conservative syndicated newspaper columnist and radio commentator in the 1950’s. Her brother serves today as a lieutenant colonel in the Marines.
Referring to her family as “good old-fashioned salt of the earth,” Enney said “I’ve been a fighter all my life,” and I was not going to just walk away.”