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Lawsuit dismissed, chamber ready to move forward

ENCINITAS — The defamation lawsuit filed by past chamber CEO Gary Tucker against the Encinitas Chamber of Commerce and past chamber President Ken Gross was dismissed Feb. 19. Now the chamber says it hopes it can move forward.
“I’m happy it’s over with,” Marshall Weinreb, current chamber CEO, said. “I said the facts will speak for themselves. I am pleased with the court’s decision.”
The chamber has had several legal tangles with Tucker since his resignation in early 2009.
After Tucker resigned, following disagreements with the chamber board of directors on operations, he filed a complaint with
the California Labor Commission for payment due to him from the chamber and won. Then he filed the defamation lawsuit against the chamber.
Tucker accused the chamber of defamation because of wording in a financial report that criticized chamber operations while he was CEO.
The financial report prepared by Colleen Walsh, an independent CPA hired by the chamber, was not favorable. The report stated chamber funds were “grossly mismanaged by former administration” and that “prior management submitted misleading and inaccurate reporting.”
Tucker’s lawsuit pointed to these statements and others in the document and said they were defamatory.
The lawsuit was dismissed because language in the report is protected by legislative privilege, according to attorney Paul Buckley of Dummit, Buchholz and Trapp, who served as council for the chamber. The audit was requested by City Council and wording in the report was used to describe the chamber’s finances.
Tucker also filed a lawsuit against Walsh, but elected to dismiss it after the suit against the chamber failed.
The chamber will be seeking attorney fees and costs related to the suit from Tucker.
Phone calls and e-mails to Tucker for comment on this story were not returned.