Vedder Thinking | News Summary Judgment Obtained in Back-to-Back Defamation Cases
Vedder Price recently achieved pre-trial dismissal of two federal court defamation lawsuits arising from workplace investigations and obtained summary judgment in each case on behalf of clients XO Communications, LLC and Dyson, Inc.
In the first case, a former employee terminated after an internal company investigation into missing equipment filed suit in Illinois state court against XO and three of its employees for defamation and certain related claims. The plaintiff alleged that statements made in connection with a meeting to discuss the investigation were defamatory and led to his termination. After XO removed the case to federal court and obtained dismissal on behalf of two of its employees for lack of personal jurisdiction, United States District Judge Elaine E. Bucklo granted summary judgment in favor of XO because the company enjoyed a qualified privilege to discuss the investigation with appropriate personnel and the plaintiff presented no evidence that XO or its employees abused the privilege. Vedder Price attorneys Thomas R. Dee, Frederic T. Knape and Nicole J. Highland each contributed to the success of this matter.
In the second case, a former employee alleged that she had been defamed, presented in a false light and discriminated against in connection with an investigation of misconduct by a company executive. The plaintiff alleged that various employees were mischaracterizing her personal relationship with the executive. Federal District Court Judge Robert W. Gettleman granted summary judgment to Dyson on all counts. Judge Gettleman found that the allegedly defamatory statements were made in the context of a legitimate workplace investigation, for a legitimate work-related purpose, and therefore were conditionally privileged. Despite extensive discovery, the plaintiff could not produce any evidence that the company acted inappropriately in any respect. Vedder Price attorneys Bruce R. Alper, Randall M. Lending and Cindy S. Stuyvesant represented client Dyson, Inc.