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Thompson v. Armstrong

Court of Appeals of Columbia District

April 7, 2016

KAREN THOMPSON, Appellant,
v.
WILLIAM H. ARMSTRONG, Appellee.

Argued February 29, 2016

Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (CAB-4137-09) (Hon. Stuart G. Nash, Trial Judge)

Joshua J. Fougere, with whom Joseph R. Guerra, Noah T. Katzen, and Arthur B. Spitzer were on the brief, for appellant.

Kevin Byrnes for appellee. Before Blackburne-Rigsby and Beckwith, Associate Judges, and Farrell, Senior Judge.

BEFORE: BLACKBURNE-RIGSBY and BECKWITH, Associate Judges; and FARRELL, Senior Judge.

JUDGMENT

This case came to be heard on the transcript of record and the briefs filed, and was argued by counsel. On consideration whereof, and as set forth in the opinion filed this date, it is now hereby

ORDERED and ADJUDGED that the judgment for the appellee is reversed, and the matter is remanded with instructions for the trial court to enter judgment in favor of the appellant.

OPINION

Michael W. Farrell, Senior Judge

A jury awarded William H. Armstrong sizable damages in his suit alleging intentional interference with a prospective contractual relationship by Karen Thompson. Before us is Ms. Thompson's appeal contending, mainly, that she was erroneously denied judgment as a matter of law because the suit, premised on true or non-provably false statements she had made

to a government agency about Mr. Armstrong's fitness for a law enforcement position, was precluded by the First Amendment. In light of what we conclude was Mr. Armstrong's status as a public official at the time, we agree with Ms. Thompson and reverse the judgment in Mr. Armstrong's favor.[1]

I.

Background


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