The elements of proof necessary to make defamatory words actionable are (1) publication, that is communication to some person other than the defamed; (2) falsity; (3) malice, actual or implied; and (4) resulting injury.
Plaintiff employee allegedly stole two lawnmowers belonging to defendant employer during his work shift as guard-fireman. An investigation was conducted implicating plaintiff as a direct or indirect participant in the thefts. Plaintiff signed a statement denying taking the missing property and another statement giving permission to have his home searched, which he withdrew later on. He filed a tort action in which he claimed defamation and false imprisonment. The trial court found that plaintiff was not defamed or falsely imprisoned. The appellate court affirmed.
Did the trial court err in finding defendant employer had no culpability for defaming or falsely imprisoning plaintiff employee with regard to the stolen items during plaintiff’s work shift?
Plaintiff employee was neither defamed nor falsely imprisoned by defendant employer. He failed to show that defendant published any defamatory statement or words against his reputation. At no time was plaintiff totally restrained. Additionally, plaintiff never revealed to anyone that he did not want to stay in the guardhouse, thus showing his implied consent to stay.