A federal court has dismissed the remaining claims against a Boulder man who runs the largest trade organization of residential and commercial property inspectors, after a competitor group dropped its demand for a jury to hear its claims of defamation.
Nick Gromicko, who runs the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, or InterNACHI, used his company's Internet forum to make critical statements about the Examination Board of Professional Home Inspectors, including disparaging statements about EBPHI's home inspector examination.
U.S. District Judge R. Brooke Jackson in February ruled that Gromicko potentially knew his assertion about the exam's invalidity to be false and harmful to EBPHI, and allowed the claims against Gromicko to proceed.
EBPHI subsequently asked to drop the lawsuit, saying the costs of going to trial exceeded the benefits, and the group worried about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the trial.
Gromicko, however, bragged about prevailing in a suit he and his lawyers deemed "frivolous," one that only served to "strike fear in the hearts of other potential critics."
"EBPHI jumped out of the ring because they could not withstand the beating they were going to take from me at trial," Gromicko said.
Jackson indicated he believed EBPHI's stated reasons for dropping the lawsuit.
"I have no basis to question EBPHI’s judgment that the amount of damages it was likely to be awarded did not justify the additional cost of trying the case," the judge wrote earlier this month.
Previously, Gromicko successfully fended off a lawsuit from another competitor membership and certification group for home inspectors, the American Society of Home Inspectors. Gromicko had, among other things, accused ASHI of being "taken over by NAMBLA," a reference to the National Man-Boy Love Association, and being a "mass murder[er]." Jackson last month dismissed ASHI's claims against Gromicko for defamation.
"ASHI knew at the outset of its case that Nick's comment about ASHI was a matter of free speech, protected by the supreme law of our land, the U.S. Constitution," Gromicko indicated on InterNACHI's website.
Jackson struck a different tone in describing the outcome of ASHI's claims.
"They were serious claims that the Court dismissed only after a great deal of thought and analysis," he wrote. "Notably, I dismissed plaintiff ASHI’s defamation claims even though I characterized Mr. Gromicko’s published statements about ASHI’s being associated with an organization that promotes pedophilia and with mass murders as 'lewd, distasteful, immature, and ludicrous' – so much so that they could not reasonably be interpreted as stating actual facts."