Business Law & Ethics
2 October 2012
Defamation: Daphne Auto LLC v. Pensacola Motor Sales
Defamation (defamation of character) is the tort of publication of a false statement of fact that causes injury to someone’s reputation or character. Defamation allegations can also be brought via a similar arena of portraying a false light which indicates false implications rather than definitive false statements (Citizens Media Law Project).
Our case, an Alabama business lawsuit, Daphne Auto., LLC v. Pensacola Motors Sales, Inc. involves defamation in the form of slander. The case was filed January 1, 2010 in Circuit Court of Mobile County, Alabama. The litigants are Daphne Automotive, LLC d/b/a ...view middle of the document...
b. Slander per quod – relies on context and the interpretation of the listener. This implicates that one would have to possess external knowledge to know that the statement was defamatory (Carroll).
c. Intentional Interference with Business
Under Alabama law a person can be liable for interfering with the business relationship of an entity. The elements required to prove interference (tort) with a business relationship are:
* there must be a contract or business relationship;
* knowledge of the contract or business relationship by the defendant;
* intentional interference with the contract or business relationship;
* damage suffered as a result of the interference, and
* the defendant must be a stranger to the relationship or contract with which he or she allegedly interfered (Johnson).
The facts of the case are in the summer of 2009, a husband and wife who had previously bought a vehicle from Bob Tyler Toyota decided to purchase vehicle for the wife. The couple shopped two dealerships, Bob Tyler Toyota and Eastern Shore Toyota, but decided to purchase from Eastern Shore Toyota rather than Bob Tyler Toyota. Prior to their final decision, this couple visited Bob Tyler Toyota showroom and met with Fred Keener, the sales manager.
Esfahani allegations of defamation per se were validated by the fact that when the couple mentioned to Keener their plans to purchase at Eastern Shore Toyota. Keener told them that Esfahani was “from the Middle East, and he was helping fund the insurgents there and also laundering money for them.” These statements to this couple were made in the presence of Bob Tyler Toyota salesman, Joe Carp. In the end, this couple decided to purchase from Eastern Shore. The salesman Joe Carp, phoned the couple while they waited to complete their purchase at Eastern Shore Toyota. Carp was alerted by the couple that they were finalizing their purchase at Eastern Shore. He, acting under the direction and supervision of Bob Tyler Toyota and Keener, the sales manager, responded: “I can’t believe you are buying from that terrorist. He is from Iraq, and he is funneling money back to his family and other terrorists. I have a brother over there and what you’re doing is helping kill my brother.” These statements were discovered to be consistent with the defamatory atmosphere created by Bob Tyler Toyota and sales manager Fred Keener, with customers who mentioned Eastern Shore Toyota.
It was also discovered that during sales meetings, Keener and the staff at Bob Tyler Toyota frequently discussed with employees Esfahani and Eastern Shore Toyota. At these meetings the plaintiffs were often labeled “terrorists” or other similar but completely false labels. Employees, especially Keener, and the salesmen, frequently and openly referred to Eastern Shore Toyota as “Middle Eastern Shore Toyota” or “Taliban Toyota.” These conversations often times occurred in the showroom and were intentionally made to be overheard by...