Diamond Shamrock Refining and Marketing Co. v. Mendez

844 S.W.2d 198 (1992)

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Diamond Shamrock Refining and Marketing Co. v. Mendez

Texas Supreme Court
844 S.W.2d 198 (1992)

Facts

Roque Mendez (plaintiff) was a chief operator at Diamond Shamrock Refining and Marketing Co. (the refinery) (defendant). On one occasion, while cleaning up at the end of the day, Mendez took some nails, valued at less than five dollars, and put them in his lunch bag. A security officer found Mendez’s lunch bag containing the nails after Mendez left for the day. The security officer reported what he found to the plant manager and human resources. Mendez’s superiors confronted him and accused him of stealing. Mendez did not deny taking the nails and putting them in his bag. Mendez was terminated for stealing. The news that Mendez was terminated for stealing spread quickly and reached potential employers. Mendez sued the refinery for false-light invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The trial court instructed the jury that the refinery could be held liable for false light if it publicized information that placed Mendez in a false light that would be highly offensive to a reasonable person. The jury found in favor of Mendez on both claims, and the trial court entered judgment accordingly. On appeal to the appellate court, the refinery argued that the trial court erred by failing to instruct the jury that the element of actual malice was required for a false-light claim. The appellate court affirmed with respect to the false-light claim, concluding that false light only required a showing of negligence. The appellate court reversed with respect to the intentional-infliction-of-emotional-distress claim. Mendez and the refinery both appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Phillips, C.J.)

Concurrence/Dissent (Gonzalez, J.)

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