North Carolina Business Litigation Report

Pack Brothers Body Shop, Inc. v. Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co., 2003 NCBC 1 (N.C. Super. Ct. Jan. 10, 2003)(Tennille)

The defendant told its insureds that that could not have the plaintiff body shop repair their vehicles. The plaintiff sued for defamation.

The Court granted summary judgment on plaintiff's claims of libel per se. The corporate plaintiff was unable to show that any potential customers regarded the claim as being defamatory on its face. The individual plaintiff, who was not named in the defamatory statement, was not entitled to argue that his name was highly identified with the company, or that he essentially "was the company" in the eyes of the public.

Summary judgment was denied, however, on the claim of libel per quod by the corporate plaintiff, as it was possible that the statement involved was capable of a defamatory meaning.

Defendant argued that its statements were protected by a qualified privilege, but the court found that there was a question of fact that precluded summary judgment.

Full Opinion

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Mack Sperling
Brooks Pierce, LLP
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