Tacket v. Delco Remy Division of General Motors Corp.
United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
937 F.2d 1201 (1991)
Thomas Tacket (plaintiff) was an employee of Delco Remy Division of General Motors (Delco) (defendant). Tacket supervised a production line. Some of Tacket’s subordinates, who were union employees, believed that Tacket was improperly outsourcing union work. At one point, a stenciled sign, 1’ x 4’ in size, appeared on the inside wall of the production plant. The sign said, “TACKET TACKET WHAT A RACKET.” A larger sign saying the same thing also appeared but was taken down after two or three days. Delco allowed the smaller sign to remain up for at least seven months. Delco investigated Tacket, could not find sufficient evidence that he had engaged in antiunion activities, and transferred him to a different department. Tacket developed a mental-health condition, depressive neurosis, that negatively affected his job performance. Tacket sued Delco, alleging defamation based on the signage. A jury trial ensued, at which Tacket presented an expert psychologist to testify about his condition. The jury found that Delco had effectively published the sign and awarded $100,000 in damages to Tacket. The jury’s special-verdict form indicated a finding that the signage alone did not defame Tacket but was defamatory when considered with other facts. Delco moved for judgment notwithstanding the verdict due to Tacket’s failure to plead and prove special damages. The trial court allowed Tacket to amend his complaint to conform to trial evidence of psychological injury and, on that basis, denied Delco’s motion. Delco appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Bauer, C.J.)
Dissent (Cudahy, J.)
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