Shareholder Jason Callicoat recently won summary judgment in a defamation lawsuit filed against a business owner and his company. A competing business owner and his company filed the lawsuit, alleging that they were defamed by untrue statements that the Defendants posted about them on the business networking platform LinkedIn.
Plaintiffs sought damages after alleging the statements conveyed that they had an inability to perform their employment or a lack of integrity in the operation of their business. They claimed the statements communicated that they lied in their own LinkedIn posts regarding their company’s profitability, revenue, number of employees, and whether they had had to lay off any employees. Plaintiffs claimed the Defendants’ false statements lowered them in the eyes of the community and deterred others in the business community from associating with them.
Querrey & Harrow conducted discovery and assembled the evidence necessary to demonstrate the Defendants’ statements were substantially true, which is a complete defense to defamation claims. The evidence showed Plaintiffs had made false statements about their revenue and profitability, and that Plaintiffs had published conflicting statements about the number of employees they had. The Defendants’ evidence also established that Plaintiffs had terminated several hundred employees, and Plaintiffs provided no competing evidence to establish these terminations were anything but layoffs. The Court agreed with Mr. Callicoat’s arguments in the summary judgment motion that the statements at issue were substantially true. The Court ruled that none of the statements at issue were actionable as defamation and entered judgment in favor of Querrey & Harrow’s clients and against the Plaintiffs.