Pardalis & Nohavicka Defamation Law Update: Board Member Called A Crook, Thief, And Embezzler At Meeting States Valid Slander Claim, But Case Gets Tossed Anyway
At a full board meeting, George P., stated that the treasurer, Stephen R., was a crook, a thief, and an embezzler. Shortly after that meeting, Stephen R. was dismissed from his position as treasurer. Stephen R. sued George for defamation. The court determined that the particular words accusing Stephen of a crime; the place and manner in which the alleged false statements were uttered, and the context in which they were published, constituted defamation. But the court dismissed the case. Here is why: in another lawsuit between Stephen and George a few years ago, they both signed a Settlement Agreement stating that no litigation may be commenced until a written demand was sent setting forth the basis of the claim in reasonable detail and after the parties first endeavored to negotiate a resolution in good faith for a period of sixty 60 days. The conditions of the Agreement had not been met, so Stephen was out of luck and his case was thrown out.
Interesting side note: Stephen argued that George’s disclosure of the Future-Litigation provision violated the agreement’s Confidentiality clause. But the court noted that the substance of the agreement was not disclosed and, further, if Stephen was correct in arguing that the Confidentiality provision was intended to be strictly enforced, he, too, was in breach by asserting the clause as a bar to disclosure of the Future-Litigation provision; and, if literally applied, the Confidentiality provision would preclude any attempt at enforcement, rendering the agreement unenforceable.
Read the case here: