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Zinda v. Louisiana Pacific Corp.
Wisconsin Supreme Court
440 N.W.2d 548 (1989)
Allan Zinda (plaintiff) worked for Louisiana Pacific Corporation (defendant). Zinda had been injured two years prior to his employment when he fell through a waferboard on a roof. Louisiana Pacific manufactured the waferboard. Zinda broke several bones. When he applied to Louisiana Pacific, Zinda provided a medical-history form. Zinda answered negatively to inquiries about back injuries and broken bones. He did mention his fall off the roof in passing. In his interview, Zinda elaborated on his fall but asserted he had no permanent problems. Zinda signed forms indicating that all of his answers were true and that the penalty for false statements was immediate discharge. After about one year of employment, Zinda sued Louisiana Pacific for the negligent manufacture of the waferboard that he fell through in an action for products liability. Zinda claimed he was permanently disabled from the fall. Louisiana Pacific’s personnel manager discovered that the allegations of Zinda’s lawsuit contradicted his answers on his medical forms. Zinda was suspended pending an investigation and then fired. Louisiana Pacific reported in its company newsletter, which was distributed to employees in the company lunchroom, that Zinda was terminated for falsification of his employment forms. A copy ended up at a local hospital where two of Zinda’s wife’s coworkers read the newsletter. Louisiana Pacific provided explanations for terminations to its employees to quell rumors about the reasons for terminations. After discharge, Zinda amended his complaint to add defamation, invasion-of-privacy, and wrongful-discharge claims. The defamation and privacy claims were tried to a jury. The other claims were dismissed. The jury returned a verdict for Zinda on both claims. Louisiana Pacific appealed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, asserting the circuit court erred in its jury instruction regarding conditional privilege.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Bablitch, J.)
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