Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart wants a court to force Yahoo to reveal the identity of someone he says sent emails falsely accusing him of domestic abuse.
In a complaint filed Feb. 14 in Cook County Circuit Court, Dart sued Oath Inc., which does business as Yahoo! Inc., regarding Oct. 22 and Oct. 29 emails sent from a Yahoo address to numerous recipients, including one media outlet, accusing Dart of injuring his wife in a physical assault at their home earlier that month.
In his complaint, Dart positioned himself as “a potential plaintiff in an action for defamation, false light and related torts arising” from publication of statements in the email. To pursue those claims, Dart wants the court to permit legal discovery through Yahoo, specifically an order authorizing him to “issue interrogatories and requests to produce documents,” including all identifying information and associated internet protocol addresses.
The complaint includes copies of the two emails, both sent from the address firstname.lastname@example.org, identified in the message headers as Dan Burley. Recipients include officials like the Chicago Inspector General and Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx, as well as several addresses associated with the Cook County Board of Commissioners, the U.S. Department of Justice and Dart’s campaign committee, as well as the Chicago Sun-Times.
In the first email, the sender identifies as a Cook County taxpayer and references an alleged incident on Oct. 11 or Oct. 12, alleging Dart “attacked his wife at their Mount Greenwood home leaving visible injuries to her face and person.” The email stated county sheriff’s deputies and Chicago police officers “responded to the scene and there were multiple witnesses, but for some reason this incident is being kept hush hush.”
That message also alleges a second incident at the home, on Oct. 17, again with multiple witnesses and law enforcement officers responding.
“Tom Dart is an elected official and us (sic) Cook County taxpayers have a right to have this domestic battery information publicly released,” the email stated. “I would hope that Tom Dart and anyone involved in this cover up are thoroughly investigated to the fullest extent of the law. I am sure that his officers would have had their badges and credentials stripped by now had it been one of them in these incidents. He should be treated no different.”
The Oct. 29 email - signed “Sincerely, Dan” - also references Oct. 10, but adds the allegation of a police report referencing “offender unknown,” as well as the existence of a 911 recording directing officers to Dart’s home.
“This incident is being attempted to be swept under the rug,” the email stated. “Tom Dart should not be able to get away with this! The public is aware of the incident as brought up at the Chicago Police Board meeting by a member of the community.”
The email further referenced a Facebook video, said CPD’s 22nd District responded to the call and that those officers, as well as sheriff’s deputies who responded, “should have to make sworn statements about this incident.”
In his complaint, Dart said the statements in both emails are false and that whoever sent the messages knew “the statements were false or authored with a reckless disregard for their truth or falsity.”
Dart is represented in the matter by Winters Salzetta O’Brien & Richardson LLC, of Chicago.