Torts Keyed to Epstein
Varian Medical Systems, Inc. v. Delfino
Delfino and Day were former Varian employees who were sued by Varian Associates, Inc., and two of its officers, for defamation, invasion of privacy, breach of contract and conspiracy. This followed the posting of more than 13,000 derogatory messages about the company and the two executives by the former employees. The employees argued that the First Amendment gave them the right to free speech. They also vowed to continue the posting of such messages till their death. The trial court therefore issued injunctive orders to prevent any more injury to the company, and the jury found them liable to pay damages on all counts. They appealed, arguing that, among other things, exaggerated speech on the internet is not defamatory. If internet speech is defamatory, it comes under the category of slander, rather than libel. The distinction is important since slander requires specific damages to be proved for recoverable liability, whereas libel presumes damages per se. The intermediate court of appeals granted review.
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