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Slander. Cobb Superior Court. Before Judge Manning. June 3, 1958.
James R. Garrett sued Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, C. B. (Chet) Miller, V. W. Thomas, and Dr. Thomas E. Hamilton to recover for slanderous statements allegedly made about him by the defendants.
The plaintiff alleged that he was an employee of the defendant corporation, that a leadman in his department reprimanded him for discussing religion with a fellow worker, that later the plaintiff, over the leadman's objections, insisted upon giving the leadman three dollars ($3.00) to return good for evil and also as a token of forgiveness, that the said leadman took the money to the defendant Thomas, the supervisor of the department in which the plaintiff worked, that Thomas attempted to have the plaintiff take the money back but the plaintiff refused, that the defendant Thomas then went to the defendant Miller, foreman of the department, and, while discussing the occurrence, Miller stated (referring to the plaintiff), "that boy's crazy," that Thomas and Miller conspired to have the plaintiff dismissed from his job by having the defendant Dr. Hamilton declare the plaintiff insane (Dr. Hamilton was a resident physician at the corporation's plant), that later the plaintiff was informed by Miller and Dr. Hamilton that he was temporarily discharged as of that moment and could be reinstated only upon the condition that he obtain a certificate from a psychiatrist stating that he was sane and competent, "and by said actions and statements declared plaintiff insane without just and logical cause and reason and without giving plaintiff sufficient opportunity to explain or validate his actions," that pursuant to such request the plaintiff obtained such a certificate and was reinstated by the defendant corporation, that since plaintiff's reinstatement the defendant corporation through its agents, and the defendants Miller and Thomas in their own actions, have continued and committed additional malicious acts to plaintiff by causing unwarranted and unfounded complaints concerning his work to issue for the purpose of attempting to imply to the plaintiff's fellow workers and future employers that the plaintiff was incapable of doing his job properly, and that such malicious slanderous acts by the defendants in addition to the act of stating that the plaintiff was insane caused such a state of nervousness in the plaintiff that he was forced to leave his employment with the defendant corporation. The plaintiff pleaded his injuries and prayed for process and judgment.
The defendants each filed general and special demurrers to the petition, and the trial court sustained the general demurrers and dismissed the petition. The plaintiff excepts to these judgments.
The decision of the Supreme Court in Walter v. Davidson, 214 Ga. 187 (104 S. E. 2d 113), and the cases cited therein control the case sub judice, because the pleadings do not make it appear that there was any publication of the alleged libelous statements. It was alleged that, in discussing the occurrence set forth in the petition, the defendant Miller stated, with reference to the plaintiff, "that boy's crazy," but no allegation is made that anyone other than the defendant Thomas heard such statement. Both Thomas and Miller were supervisors of the plaintiff and were discussing the incident which was the beginning of the controversy between the parties. Nor was the statement allegedly made by the defendant Dr. Hamilton, a resident physician for the defendant corporation, shown to have been made in the presence of anyone who would come within the category of those to whom a publication could be made. See Central of Ga. Ry. Co. v. Jones, 18 Ga. App. 414 (89 S. E. 429), and Beck v. Oden, 64 Ga. App. 407 (13 S. E. 2d 468).
The plaintiff's petition further alleged with reference to the alleged slander, "that the defendant corporation . . . and said defendants Miller and Thomas have continued and committed additional acts of defamation slanderous to the plaintiff by causing unwarranted and unfounded complaints concerning the work of the plaintiff to issue."
The petition does not allege to whom such alleged unwarranted complaints were made, and under the decision of this court in Beck v. Oden, 64 Ga. App. 407, supra, at page 412, and the cases there cited, such allegations, on general demurrer, must be construed as alleging that such complaints were made only to that class of persons to whom such communications would be privileged to wit, supervisory personnel of the defendant corporation.
The plaintiff's petition failed to set forth a cause of action against any of the defendants and the trial court did not err in sustaining the defendants' general demurrers and in dismissing the petition.
Judgment affirmed. Felton, C. J., and Quillian, J., concur.
Albert J. Henderson, Jr., Smith, Kilpatrick, Cody, Rogers & McClatchey, Harry S. Baxter, Moise, Post & Gardner, R. Emerson Gardner, Hugh E. Wright, contra.
Ernest Stone, Jr., for plaintiff in error.
Saturday May 23 01:14 EDT

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