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Appeals court says mayor's article not defamatory

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 7, 2014 at 1:50 pm •  Published: August 7, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A former Utah mayor who wrote news stories under a false identity did not defame a former contractor in one of the articles, a federal appeals court ruled.

The Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld a lower court's decision to dismiss the defamation lawsuit against former West Valley City Mayor Mike Winder.

Winder wrote more than a dozen newspaper stories for Utah media organizations in 2011 using the name Richard Burwash. He wrote upbeat articles about his city and even quoted himself as mayor.

Contractor Chris Hogan alleged one of Winder's articles falsely claimed Hogan was accused of extortion and fired from UTOPIA, a fiber-optics network formed by 16 cities to provide Internet service.

The appeals court ruled the article accurately reported statements and documents in the employment dispute.

Hogan's attorney Steve S. Christensen did not return message seeking comment.

"Obviously, we're very pleased with the ruling," Winder told The Associated Press on Thursday. He declined to comment further.

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