Boston Partner Gareth Notis and Associate Roy Bjorlin obtained a complete dismissal, at the Motion to Dismiss stage, of Defamation and Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress claims brought in Suffolk Superior Court by a plaintiff against a relative.
Plaintiff was involuntarily committed due to allegedly false statements made by the defendant concerning plaintiff's mental health and criminal history. In a 15-page decision, the judge accepted the defendant's argument that statements substantially true cannot support a defamation claim simply because they contain inaccuracies. Moreover, the Court also found that the inaccuracies would have no effect on the mind of the reader. The Court also ruled that the statements, regardless of their veracity, were protected by a qualified privilege because they were important to the interests of law enforcement, hospital staff, and the plaintiff, with whom the defendant had a family relationship. Lastly, the judge agreed that defendant's statements, made in the context of plaintiff being located by police and evaluated by medical personnel, could not be considered extreme or beyond all possible bounds of decency.