NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – A judge overturned a defamation verdict against Norfolk after a business owner claimed a comment made by a city employee harmed her reputation.

Stephanie Ann Wadnola owns 731 Granby St. and was operating as a landlord at the time of the alleged comment. In her lawsuit against the city, her attorney, Barry Montgomery alleged that a city employee told her tenants that Wadnola had been running her business illegally “since day one.”

Court records show the city argued Wadnola operated her business under a fictitious name. Montgomery claimed the city still accepted taxes despite the discrepancy between entity names – “Jhanesis LLC” and “Jhanes Sweet Lounge.”

Wadnola filed a defamation lawsuit against the city, and a jury decided she should be awarded $300,000 in April. The city filed a motion to strike the case, which Norfolk Circuit Court Judge Everett Martin took under consideration. Martin issued a decision to set aside the verdict and dismiss the lawsuit on Tuesday.

In an opinion issued with the ruling, Martin wrote that there was no evidence Wadnola suffered any damage to her business or reputation or lost any business because of the statement.

Wadnola has 30 days to appeal the court’s decision.