Schwab, Prinzing take fight to court

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 1, 2002

Mal Prinzing brought the controversy regarding his signs to the court, suing Sen. Grace Schwab, R-Albert Lea, for allegedly damaging the letters. Schwab reacted furiously to the litigation, and filed a counterclaim demanding more than $100,000 for the damages she thinks are being inflicted Thursday.

Prinzing asserts that Schwab’s act to remove letters from the sign board resulted in $1,720 damage.

A trailer owned by Prinzing carrying the sign board, opposing the school referendum, was parked in a parking lot at the Northbridge Mall before the last November’s referendum day.

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Schwab, who had been advocating the school district’s effort to pass the referendum, confirmed with the mall manager that Prinzing had no permission to use the space, and along with the manager, removed the letters from the sign. They were eventually returned to Prinzing.

The lawsuit claims $680 for scratches on the letters, $240 for employee time and $800 for towing a banner with his private plane, which Prinzing asserts was an alternative to placing the sign.

Albert Lea Police Department dismissed Prinzing’s claim to press a criminal charge against Schwab for stealing the letters. City Attorney Steven Schwab, Sen. Schwab’s husband, said the police had urged Prinzing to move the trailer, but he did not comply

Prinzing had placed a sign attacking Police Chief Tom Menning last December at his business property on West Front Street. Now, he has started condemning Schwab by erecting three signs that accuse her of theft for taking the letters off the sign.

Schwab described Prinzing’s allegations as &uot;silly, frivolous and a real affront to decent people.&uot;

&uot;This is smear campaigning at its very worst,&uot; Schwab said. &uot;I have no intention of letting someone like Prinzing get away with it.&uot;

In the counterclaim, Schwab accused Prinzing of defamation and slander, and claimed in excess of $50,000 for each of count. She also demand a court order to remove the existing signs immediately.

&uot;Fair is fair in a political fight,&uot; Schwab said. &uot;If Prinzing wants to endorse my opponent, good luck to them both. But I will not suffer in silence if he is misusing the judicial system to falsely assault my character.&uot;

Prinzing could not be reached Thursday.