Court: Supreme Court of Virginia
Opinion Date: April 8, 2021
Judge: Donald W. Lemons
Areas of Law: Personal Injury
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court dismissing with prejudice an amended complaint filed by Lisha Bryant-Shannon (Shannon) against the Hampton Roads Community Action Program, Inc. (HRCAP) alleging its liability for defamatory statements made by Tina Vick, the HRCAP interim executive director, holding that the circuit court properly granted HRCAP’s special plea of absolute privilege. After Shannon was terminated from her position she applied for unemployment benefits, but the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) denied the application following a hearing. Shannon subsequently filed this action stating claims for defamation based in part on allegedly defamatory statements made during employment-related disciplinary proceedings and in part on Vick’s allegations during the VEC proceedings. The circuit court dismissed the complaint with prejudice. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the statements in the disciplinary form (1) Va. Code 60.2-623(B) grants absolute privilege to statements made during VEC proceedings; and (2) the circuit court did not err in granting HRCAP’s special plea of absolute privilege.
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