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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on May 23, 2012

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Michelle Blaylock Owens, Michael Clifford Gillespie, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Phillip Sullivan.

Attorneys 2:

Jeffrey M. Beemer, Kelly Marie Telfeyan, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Wilson County, Jonathan Daniel, Lane Mullins, and John Edwards.

Judge(s): COTTRELL

An employee was terminated by a local power board after a detective sent his employer a letter stating the employee sold narcotic drugs from the truck the employee used during his shift and that the employee admitted selling the drugs. The employee denied selling illegal drugs or making such an admission to the detective, but the administrative law judge in charge of the evidentiary hearing determined the statements in the detective’s letter were true. The employee later filed suit against the detective who authored the letter, his supervisors, and the county employing the individual defendants. The former employee asserted causes of action for defamation, negligence, false light invasion of privacy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The trial court concluded the former employee was collaterally estopped from relitigating the veracity of the statements in the detective’s letter leading to the former employee’s termination and dismissed the complaint in toto. We affirm. All of the employee’s causes of action were based upon statements the detective made in his letter to the employer, which the employee alleged were false. Because the employee is estopped from denying the truth of those statements, he has no basis on which to pursue any of the causes of action set forth in his complaint.