Fired County Worker Loses Defamation Case

     RICHMOND, Va. (CN) – A fired Isle of Wight County employee who says her former supervisor made detrimental comments about her to a local reporter cannot pursue defamation claims against her ex-boss, a federal judge ruled.
     Lisa Perry was fired from her position as Isle of Wight County Economic Development Director in July 2014, for allegedly failing to return from a medical leave within the time allotted.
     Following Perry’s termination, Vice-Chairman of Board of Supervisors for Isle of Wight County Delores Darden told Tidewater News that Perry had been due back at work “since last Friday,” but was a no-call, no-show.
     Darden also told reporters that Perry “did an adequate job” in her six-and-a-half years as economic development director, but that “part of the leave agreement was that not returning to work as agreed meant that the job would not be held for her.”
     Perry, who suffered serious shoulder injuries as the result of an accident, argues she was fired before her designated return date in retaliation for her extended leave.
     But U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson shot down Perry’s $2.5 million defamation claim against Darden on October 13, holding that she failed to disprove the validity of Darden’s statements.
     In explaining his rationale, Jackson said Darden’s statement to a reporter that Perry “did an adequate job” is opinion, and “therefore cannot be false.”
     “Neither party contests that the statements at issue were published in The Tidewater News,” Jackson wrote, but “[s]tatements must be false and defamatory in order to meet the actionable standard required for a defamation claim.”
     Representatives of the respective parties did not respond to Courthouse News’ request for comment.

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