I’ve blogged before about Moore v. Hoff, a Minnesota case in which a jury ordered a blogger (John Hoff, who blogs as Johnny Northside) to pay $60,000 to a university official because the blogger blogged the truth about the official, intending to get him fired. Today, the Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed the verdict, in Moore v. Hoff (Minn. Ct. App. Aug. 20, 2012):
Because truth is an absolute defense to a claim for defamation, truth should also be a defense to a claim for tortious interference with a contract arising out of an allegedly defamatory statement. See also Restatement (Second) of Torts § 772 cmt. b (“There is of course no liability for interference with a contract … on the part of one who merely gives truthful information to another.”).
Moore argues that Hoff is not shielded from tort liability simply because Moore could not prove the falsity of Hoff’s statement. Rather, Moore urges us to rely instead on Hoff’s motivation for making the allegedly defamatory statements. Moore asserts that because Hoff had an ulterior motive of getting Moore fired, he can be liable for the tortious-interference claims. We disagree.
When a person conveys unflattering and possibly damaging information to another person’s employer, it is unlikely that the motivation for conveying that information is borne out of affection. It is much more likely that the intent is for the employer to take responsive action — up to and including termination — based on the content of that information. Regardless of the motivation of the messenger, if the information conveyed is true, it is not appropriate for liability to attach. See Restatement (Second) of Torts § 772 cmt. b. (noting that conveying truthful information is not “improper” interference “even though the facts are marshaled in such a way