Dan Hartzog, Jr.  obtained dismissal of all claims in a lawsuit brought by a former police officer for a City. The officer had been fired from the City for attending court for a personal matter while on duty, arriving late on three occasions, and failing to prepare proper paperwork for a warrant before submitting a statement saying the warrant had been obtained.

He later applied for employment at a number of different police departments, including a nearby city. As part of the application process, the nearby city sent a form to be completed which requested a statement of the reasons for separation from employment. The Human Resources Officer stated that the officer had been fired for “failing to show up for work and for falsifying paperwork.”

Plaintiff sued the City and the Human Resources Director for defamation, unfair deceptive trade practices, and punitive damages. An answer was filed along with several relevant documents, and a motion for judgment on the pleadings was filed on the grounds that the statement was true, that the plaintiff was a public official and could not overcome the NY Times v. Sullivan actual malice standard, and that the matter did not involve “commerce,” which is required for an unfair and deceptive trade practices claim.

Following oral argument, the motion was granted and all claims were dismissed.

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