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Denver Rocky Mountain News

Denver, Colorado, April 29, 2000


Couple win $10.5 million in lawsuit

Jury levies judgment against ADL director, Denver-area chapter

By Kevin Vaughan
Denver Rocky Mountain News Staff Writer


An Evergreen couple won a $10.5 million judgment Friday against the local chapter of the Anti-Defamation League and its director after he publicly accused them of anti-Semitism in 1994. The award, handed down by a federal court jury, was the latest chapter in a six-year battle pitting William and Dorothy "Dee" Quigley against their neighbors, Mitchell and Candice Aronson. "It's an astonishing verdict in light of the apparent mutual rancor of the neighbors," said Denver attorney Scott Robinson, an analyst for the Denver Rocky Mountain News. "From the outside looking in, one would have thought most jurors would have not given a whit for the claim of defamatory statements, in light of everything that occurred between those two couples."

The jury found in favor of the Quigleys in their civil rights suit against the Anti-Defamation League and the director of its Mountain States office, Saul Rosenthal. "We were surprised and shocked by their interpretation of the facts of the case," Rosenthal said Friday evening. Jay Horowitz, the Quigleys' attorney, said the couple sought vindication. "We got it," he said. The Quigleys and the Aronsons lived two houses away from each other in an exclusive Evergreen neighborhood. Their dispute began with dueling complaints about dogs. At one point the Quigleys suspected the Aronsons of stealing decorative rocks from their yard.

The battle escalated to the point where the Aronsons, using a scanner, tape-recorded phone conversations in which Dee Quigley was accused of calling Candice Aronson a "f-- -- New York Jew" and, in apparent references to the Holocaust, spoke of painting an oven door on the couple's house and tossing lampshades and bars of soap on their lawn. She also spoke of burning the Aronsons' home and dousing their children with gas, according to court testimony. The Aronsons accused the Quigleys of trying to run them out of the neighborhood because they were Jewish and sought help from the Anti-Defamation League and Rosenthal. At a press conference in December 1994, Rosenthal called the Quigleys "anti-Semitic."

The fight included hate crime charges against the Quigleys that were later dropped and a $75,000 payment from Jefferson County to fend off a lawsuit from the couple. The couples also sued each other and their original attorneys. In court this month, Horowitz claimed the Quigleys' reputation and dignity were damaged by the Aronsons' claims. William Quigley's career in the movie industry was damaged by the accusations leveled by Rosenthal, according to court proceedings this week. Dee Quigley testified that she regretted her comments, made during talks with a friend on a cellular telephone, and that they were meant in jest. Horowitz, the Quigleys' attorney, said after the jury's verdict Friday that the couple would not comment.

Barry Curtiss-Lusher, chairman of the Anti-Defamation League's board, said he was "very disappointed in the verdict." "We believed we were doing the right thing when we acted to protect a Jewish family," he said. The organization was formed in 1913 to stop the defamation of Jewish people and to fight discrimination and bigotry.

Curtiss-Lusher said the group will continue to support Rosenthal, "who is one of the best in this city or anywhere else in fighting for what he believes and what we believe." He and Rosenthal said they and their attorneys will consider an appeal. Rosenthal also said the verdict will not stop his work. "We will continue to speak out against prejudice, discrimination and anti-Semitism wherever and whenever we see it," he said.

Related story: Couple win $10.5 million in lawsuit

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