Washington, D.C Partner Brian Scotti obtained a complete dismissal on demurrer on behalf of a government contractor client.
The plaintiff filed a lawsuit in the Fairfax County Circuit Court, Virginia, alleging that a government contractor and its employees defamed him by stating that the plaintiff engaged in sexual harassment and expressed fears that he would become violent in the workplace if he was permitted to remain on the contract. The plaintiff claimed these statements resulted in his termination.
A demurrer was filed on behalf of the government contractor, arguing the defamatory statements were not set forth in haec verba (i.e., the exact words of the purported defamatory statements were not provided in the Complaint) and that the Complaint failed to allege the element of publication inasmuch as all of the alleged statements were entitled to the protection of the qualified privilege because the alleged statement were made to persons with an interest or duty in the subject matter of the statements.
The Court agreed and sustained the contractor’s demurrer. In so doing, the Court held, as a matter of law, the alleged defamatory statements were insufficiently pled and otherwise privileged. The plaintiff did not seek to refile his Complaint against the government contractor. Subsequently, the order became final, resulting in the dismissal of the contractor, with prejudice.