It was the winter of 2003, and tempers were running high in Oakville, Miss. On one side was Fred Weber Inc., the biggest highway construction company in the state and owner of rock quarries and a trash-disposal service. On the other side were some residents of Oakville, who didn't like the idea of Weber opening a trash collection station that would handle 500 tons of garbage in their small community.
Things got nasty in early December, when the St. Louis County Department of Health held a public hearing on whether to approve Weber's zoning application. Several people began distributing a flyer around the meeting bearing the headline "Stop Fred Weber Inc." The flyer read, "three things you can do to fight the trash terrorists."
However, Diehl argues that the writ is an appropriate remedy because Weber has no legal basis for saying that it was defamed by the phrase "trash terrorist."
"It was hyperbole, part of a political discussion," Wamser says. "It was an opinion that is not actionable under defamation law and that is protected by the First Amendment."