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DiFolco v. MSNBC CABLE LLC

622 F.3d 104 (2010)

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DiFolco v. MSNBC CABLE LLC

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

622 F.3d 104 (2010)

Facts

Claudia DiFolco (plaintiff) had a two-year contract as an entertainment reporter, correspondent, and anchor for MSNBC Cable LLC (codefendant). Midway through, DiFolco claimed that producers Scott Leon and Cassandra Brownstein (codefendants) subjected her to intolerable working conditions by repeatedly canceling her scheduled shoots without notice or justification. On August 23, 2005, DiFolco emailed MSNBC’s president, Rick Kaplan (codefendant), saying she hoped to remain with the MSNBC team, but requesting a meeting to “discuss [her] exit from the shows.” Kaplan agreed to a meeting on September 1 in New Jersey, when DiFolco was already scheduled to be on the East Coast for New York fashion week. Leon canceled DiFolco for fashion week the next day. DiFolco again contacted Kaplan, who said he believed DiFolco had resigned. DiFolco emailed insisting she had not resigned and confirmed their meeting for September 1. But while DiFolco was flying from California to New Jersey, Leon canceled the meeting with Kaplan, and MSNBC sent DiFolco a proposed separation and severance agreement. DiFolco sent a lengthy third email that did not clearly say she had resigned. Stories about DiFolco’s separation from MSNBC promptly appeared on entertainment websites. DiFolco sued for breach of contract, defamation, tortious interference with business relations, and violations of New York labor laws. Specifically, DiFolco claimed MSNBC retaliated against her for complaining about her producers’ alleged harassment and that Kaplan and Leon misinterpreted her emails as resignation notices. The district court found DiFolco had repudiated her contract in the email exchange, meaning MSNBC had no remaining obligations to her. That also meant DiFolco could not recover for defamation or tortious interference with business relations, so the court dismissed those claims as well. DiFolco appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Miner, J.)

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