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Clay Chastain’s defamation suit against The Star dismissed again by federal judge

A federal judge on Monday again dismissed a defamation lawsuit against The Kansas City Star filed by transit activist and serial municipal candidate Clay Chastain.

The most recent dismissal was granted with prejudice, meaning Chastain cannot file the lawsuit again.

Chastain, of Virginia, has run unsuccessfully for elected office in Kansas City numerous times and routinely petitions the city to build elaborate transit systems.

He sued The Star on March 29, claiming he had been defamed in a March 25 column profiling him and two other individuals who, at the time, were candidates for mayor.

The column mentioned Chastain’s one-time inclusion on a City Hall watch list for perceived threats against Mayor Sly James, a history of depression and financial struggle and the numerous lawsuits he has filed against Kansas City. He claimed the statements were false and defamatory and intended to undermine his chance of advancing in the April 2 primary for mayor.

In July U.S. District Court Judge Greg Kays dismissed the lawsuit without prejudice. That decision allowed Chastain to refile the complaint, which he did.

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In one lawsuit, Clay Chastain accuses Kansas City’s mayor of “deliberately sabotaging” the vote on Chastain’s 2011 petition initiative. In another, he accused the former city attorney of malfeasance and his own former attorney of malpractice relating to the 2016 petition initiative. File photo

On Monday the judge dismissed the lawsuit again, this time with prejudice, writing that Chastain’s second complaint asserted the same facts as before.

The judge wrote that Chastain had failed to establish that the statements about the watch list were either false or published with the requisite degree of malice; that Chastain did not establish the statements about depression and financial struggles were published with actual malice; and that Chastain did not establish the statement about the lawsuits was false.

The judge previously noted that Chastain acknowledged some of the statements in the very court filing where he claimed they weren’t true.

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Ian Cummings is the breaking news editor for The Kansas City Star, where he started as a reporter in 2015. He is a Kansas City native who graduated from the University of Kansas in 2012.
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