401 Public Safety and Lifeline Data Centers, LLC, Appellants-Defendant,
David Ray and the Committee to Elect David Ray, Appellees-Plaintiff
from the Marion Superior Court The Honorable John F. Hanley,
Judge Trial Court Cause No. 49D11-1511-PL-37914
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANTS Daniel D. Bobilya Conor S. Slocum
Bonahoom & Bobilya, LLC Fort Wayne, Indiana
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES John J. Thar Dustin J. Moloy Katzman
& Katzman, P.C. Indianapolis, Indiana
401 Public Safety (401) and Lifeline Data Centers, LLC
(Lifeline) (collectively, the Appellants), appeal the trial
court's order dismissing their defamation complaint
against David Ray and the Committee to Elect David Ray (the
Committee) (collectively, the Appellees) based on the
Anti-SLAPP Statute.Finding no error, we affirm.
401 is an Indiana limited liability company that owns a
portion of what used to be the Eastgate Mall, located on
North Shadeland Avenue in Indianapolis (the Property).
Lifeline is an Indiana limited liability company that leases
a portion of the Property. Alex Carroll is the managing
member of both 401 and Lifeline; it is unclear whether
Carroll also has an ownership interest in the companies.
Carroll, through Lifeline, supported the campaign of Ben
Hunter, who was the incumbent City-County Councilman running
In 2010 and 2013, Lifeline made political contributions of
$800 and $500, respectively, to Hunter's campaign
committee; at that time, Hunter was a member of the
Indianapolis City-County Council. On May 20, 2011, 401
entered into a twenty-five-year lease agreement (the Lease)
with the City of Indianapolis (the City), pursuant to which
401 leased a portion of the Property to the City. Hunter
strongly advocated in favor of the Lease. The portion leased
by the City is commonly referred to as the "Regional
Operations Center" (ROC).
Beginning in September 2013, the Indianapolis media began
investigating and reporting about the physical state of the
property that housed the ROC. Specifically, there were media
reports that the building was unfit and unsafe for people to
work in. In 2014, media reports indicated an ongoing
City-County Council investigation into the Lease, which was
described as a bad deal for the City and its taxpayers.
Carroll admitted to receiving notices of violation from the
Ray is a lifelong resident of the east side of Indianapolis.
In 2015, Ray ran as a candidate for the office of the
19th District of the Indianapolis City-County
Council. The Committee was established to assist with
Ray's campaign, and Ray served as the Committee's
Tim Henderson volunteered as a general consultant for
Ray's campaign. Henderson conceptualized a series of
flyers to be mailed to eastside constituents. The third flyer
(the Flyer), which is the subject of this litigation, can be
described as follows:
• The first side contains reproductions of two reports
of the 2010 and 2013 contributions made by Lifeline to
Hunter's campaign committee.
• That side states, "What will $1, 300 from a
political insider buy? A contract with the City. A contract
Ben Hunter pushed for. On November 3rd vote NO to
sweetheart deals for political insiders."
• Additionally, that side includes two media quotations.
First, from FOX-59 on September 12, 2013, "Contract for
ROC locks city into 25-year deal." Second, from the
Indianapolis Star on September 13, 2013, "The
[ROC] is in Hunter's district, and Hunter was a champion
of the project. He filled committee meetings with supporters
and organized a public campaign to send emails to council
• The text on the second side is superimposed over a
photograph of the Property.
• The second side contains the following original text:
"When it came to protecting the Eastside's
interests, Ben Hunter let us down. Ben Hunter cut a
sweetheart deal for a political insider. A deal that cost the
city millions and ties up the former Eastgate site for 25
years. Code enforcement violations. Fire and safety hazards.
Investigations. Lawsuits. A building so unsafe, it was
evacuated. It's a mess. A mess that the Eastside is left
to clean up. Vote David Ray for City-County Council on
• Additionally, the second side includes two media
quotations, both from the same September 13, 2013,
Indianapolis Star article. First, "The building
was so dangerous that the fire department placed it on
'fire watch, ' which meant a fire marshal had to be
on the premises 24 hours a day to handle any emergency."
Second, "'I cannot have people in this facility that
is deemed unsafe, ' Riggs said."
App. Vol. II p. 2-3. At no point does the Flyer mention or
implicitly refer to 401.
On November 13, 2015, 401 and Lifeline filed a defamation
complaint against Ray and the Committee based solely on the
Flyer. On February 12, 2016, Ray and the Committee filed an
answer and affirmative defenses, including an affirmative
defense based on the Anti-SLAPP Statute. On June 6, 2016, Ray
and the Committee filed a motion to dismiss based, in
relevant part, on the Anti-SLAPP Statute. Following briefing
and a hearing, on August 23, 2016, the trial court entered an
order summarily granting the motion to dismiss based on the
Anti-SLAPP Statute. Lifeline and 401 now appeal.