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The Supreme Court of Montana recently affirmed a trial court’s summary judgment order favoring a nurse who had been sued for defamation by a workers’ compensation claimant after the defendant nurse documented in the claimant’s medical file that claimant may have been malingering or seeking narcotics. Observing that the district court may have erred in failing to conduct a Rule 56 analysis—it entered summary judgment when the pro se plaintiff failed to file a brief opposing defendant’s motion—the high court initially noted that plaintiff should have been more familiar with the rules since she had filed some 43 cases against various parties. The supreme court added, however, that in any event it’s de novo review indicated no actual error, since there were no genuine issues of material fact. The statements were an expression of the defendant nurse’s opinion and a basic principle in the law of defamation is that such an expression of opinion generally does not carry a defamatory meaning and is, therefore, not actionable.
Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is a leading commentator and expert on the law of workers’ compensation.
LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance. Bracketed citations link to lexis.com.
See Chapman v. Maxwell, 2014 MT 35, 2014 Mont. LEXIS 48 (Feb. 11, 2014) [2014 Mont. LEXIS 48 (Feb. 11, 2014)]
See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 104.04 [104.04]
Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law.
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