Former Libby mayor sues Western News

Print Article

Former Libby Mayor Doug Roll is seen in a file photo from The Western News.

Former Libby Mayor Doug Roll is suing The Western News for alleged defamation, civil conspiracy and actual malice related to newspaper articles written last year by then-editor Robert “Bob” Henline.

Roll filed the lawsuit March 23 in Lincoln County District Court. The lawsuit named Hagadone Montana Publishing LLC, doing business as The Western News, as the defendant. Hagadone Montana Publishing is also the parent company of the Daily Inter Lake.

Roll served as mayor for eight years, but resigned Sept. 7, 2016, following a recall attempt and subsequent court ruling that Roll said “fully exonerated” him.

“After all the bad press, thousands of dollars in attorneys fees expended, loss of trust with the city of Libby council members, [Roll] had no choice but to resign in the face of his lost reputation,” the lawsuit alleges. “The public shaming made it impossible to do his job.”

He is asking for a jury trial.

The complaint points out three news articles and one editorial written in April 2016 by Henline that took issue with Roll’s performance as mayor. Henline also authored several other articles about Roll that the lawsuit claims “have the same antagonistic tone and malicious falsehoods.”

Henline began work at The Western News on Oct. 27, 2014, becoming editor in March 2015. He never worked as publisher of The Western News, although the lawsuit refers to him that way. Henline resigned as editor on June 2, 2016. He currently is the director of Kootenai Country Montana, a visitor magazine sponsored by The Venture Inn in Libby. He also works in external affairs for Hecla Montana, a company that owns mine facilities in Northwest Montana.

Henline continues to have a civic presence in Libby, serving as the current president of the Libby Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, and as a board member of the Center for Asbestos Related Disease, or CARD Foundation.

Roll maintains Henline’s articles, with headlines such as “Mayor lies to council, public” and “Libby Mayor orchestrates illegal meeting” constituted libel.

The Western News later printed a retraction stating an unofficial and unannounced meeting was not illegal.

The lawsuit alleges Henline’s articles prompted Tammy Brown to lead recall efforts, asking Roll to resign as mayor.

Roll filed a motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against Brown and others involved in the recall petition. During that court hearing Brown testified it was Henline who actually drafted the recall petitions, according to Roll’s latest court complaint. The court halted the recall effort.

In addition to counts of defamation, civil conspiracy and actual malice, the lawsuit cites tortuous interference with contractual or business relations, alleging The Western News “intentionally and willfully published negative articles containing false information about [Roll], with full knowledge that the facts were false.”

Roll is asking for damages in an amount to be determined at trial, plus punitive damages and attorney fees.

The court documents are available at

Print Article

Read More Local News

No word on when EPA review of use of grant funds will end

January 16, 2018 at 8:40 am | Western News An Environmental Protection Agency review into the disbursement of grant funds the Lincoln County Commission requested in May 2016 continues, with no word on when it might end. “Unfortunately, we’re...


Read More

City of Libby, state disagree over blame for sidewalk snafu

January 16, 2018 at 8:40 am | Western News Letters Libby officials sent to the state expressing displeasure at the outcome of a state-funded sidewalk construction project garnered responses those officials say came up as short as the outcome ...


Read More

Medical Center welcomes intern to lab department

January 16, 2018 at 8:39 am | Western News Thanks to the Montana Medical Laboratory Science Professional program, Cabinet Peaks Medical Center welcomed intern Benjamen French to its lab department in September. The program, developed in 2008...


Read More

Deadline to apply for FVCC spring classes is Jan. 16

January 12, 2018 at 2:00 am | Western News Prospective students of Flathead Valley Community College’s Lincoln County Campus have until Jan. 16 to apply for spring semester classes, which begin Jan. 22 and end May 17. College staff can hel...


Read More

Contact Us

(406) 293-4124
311 California Ave.
Libby, MT 59923

©2018 The Western News Terms of Use Privacy Policy