Saturday, April 14, 2007

Frank v. Home Depot (U.S.D.C. Maryland)

Filed April 11, 2007—Opinion by Judge William Quarles

The District Court granted Home Depot’s motions for summary judgment of a suit by Charles Frank, a former employee, for breach of contract and defamation related to his termination and certain statements made by a Home Depot employee to Frank’s potential future employer.

Home Depot had terminated Frank because he falsely stated that he had been properly licensed to operate the forklift when his license had expired. Thereafter, Lowe’s allegedly failed to hire him because of defamatory statements made by a Home Depot employee to someone at Lowe’s.

This is the second suit brought by Frank against Home Depot. In the first, Frank sued pro se, alleging retaliatory and discriminatory discharge in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and wrongful discharge in violation of Maryland law. The Court had dismissed that suit for failure to state a claim.

The instant suit alleging breach of contract and wrongful discharge was previously dismissed without prejudice and reinstated on an amended complaint that added the defamation claim. The Court determined that the first count was barred by res judicata, while the defamation claim was barred by the statute of limitations and, in any event, by a statutory and common law qualified privilege, citing Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 5-423 and Gohari v. Darvish, 363 Md. 42, 56 (2001).

The opinion and order are available in PDF.

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