Jury determines local man did not defame former Kemah mayor

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Oct. 22, 2013, 7:56am

GALVESTON - Jurors in a trial focusing on a former Kemah mayor's defamation lawsuit against a local man issued a verdict in favor of the defendant, recent court documents show.

The jury of 11 people on Oct. 17 determined Arnold "Blu" Shields did not make statements that Matthew D. Wiggins Jr. claimed were false and politically motivated.

Wiggins, who was mayor of the north Galveston County town of 3,300 people from May 2009 to May 2011, will not be awarded any damages, according to the verdict.

Shields was among a group of citizens Wiggins took to court last year for actions he asserted “induced disparaging, hostile and disagreeable opinions or feelings against (him).”

Each of the lawsuits stated the plaintiff's reputation and standing in the community were negatively impacted and that he suffers from emotional distress.

The respondents refuted Wiggins, who later revised his suits to explain how their actions led to a broadcast segment by KTRK investigative reporter Wayne Dolcefino and his defeat in the 2011 Kemah mayoral elections.

Shields is the fifth defendant to be absolved by a jury or dismissed from the litigation.

In late August, a jury concluded that League City local Delores Lara said nothing false when she remarked how Wiggins "played (her and her husband Jose) crooked" while Jose Lara was non-suited.

Kemah residents Carl Joiner and Brian Sawyer were released before the first trial date was scheduled.

The case against former Kemah Volunteer Fire Department Chief Larry Suniga, which saw more than two continuances, was reportedly "settled."

Only Chadwick Jones, Sylvia Streater and Linda Ward, all of Kemah, remain to counter Wiggins.

The trio and the plaintiff will face off in a jury trial set for Dec. 2.

Case Nos. 12-CV-192, 12-CV-195, 12-CV-196, 12-CV-197

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