Jim Denning

Kansas Sen. Jim Denning may be on the hook for about $90,000 in legal fees after a judge threw out his defamation claims against The Kansas City Star and former Star guest columnist Steve Rose.

That’s because the Kansas Public Speech Protection Act, which is meant to discourage lawsuits that chill free speech, allows prevailing parties to recover their costs of litigation and “reasonable attorney fees.”  

Six months after suing The Kansas City Star and columnist Steve Rose for defamation, Kansas Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning has seen all of his claims thrown out.

Earlier this month, Johnson County District Judge Paul Gurney tossed Denning’s defamation claims against The Star, finding he had failed to show malice.

And on Tuesday, he did the same thing with Denning’s claims against Rose, finding that Denning had failed to meet his burden of proof under the Kansas Public Speech Protection Act.

A Johnson County judge on Tuesday tossed out a defamation lawsuit brought by Kansas Sen. Majority Leader Jim Denning against The Kansas City Star, finding Denning failed to prove malice.

Judge Paul Gurney also ordered Denning to pay the newspaper’s attorney fees, which could run as high as $40,000.

Gurney ruled that Denning had not met the requirements of the Kansas Speech Protection Act, which is designed to end meritless lawsuits that target the exercise of free speech.

Battles over a Republican tax cut proposal and Medicaid expansion persisted through the last day of the Kansas Legislature's 2019 session … and remain unresolved. Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning says he plans to address healthcare and tax policy next session, when maybe he'll be Senate President. 


Kansas Sen. Jim Denning’s defamation lawsuit against The Kansas City Star should be thrown out because the First Amendment protects even untruthful speech, the newspaper asserted in a court filing Wednesday.

In a brief supporting its motion made last month to strike Denning’s petition, The Star says that Denning would be unable to show that the newspaper acted with “actual malice” when it published a column by unpaid guest columnist Steve Rose about Denning’s opposition to Medicaid expansion.