" judge has tentatively ruled there's enough merit to a defamation lawsuit against a Menlo Park Fire Protection District Board member that it won't be dismissed.
The Oct. 11 suit filed by John Woodell -- a San Mateo County Democratic Committee member and the husband of Menlo Park Council Member Kirsten Keith -- alleges that Virginia Chang Kiraly defamed him by telling people he stole numerous campaign signs when she was running for a seat on the fire district board.
Kiraly filed a motion Nov. 26 in which she denies making any such statement and calls Woodell's lawsuit "frivolous." In arguing for the suit's dismissal, Kiraly said it "seeks to chill legitimate public discourse" related to the contested 2011 fire district election.
In his Jan. 18 tentative ruling, San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Raymond Swope said Kiraly failed to significantly show the "challenged cause of action is one 'arising from' protected activity." In addition, Woodell's lawsuit "demonstrated a probability of prevailing on his defamation claim," Swope wrote.
Woodell's lawyer, Seth Rosenberg, said Tuesday he was "obviously quite pleased with the judge's analysis."