distinguishable from the facts in the case at bar.
The internal investigation in the instant case bears a much stronger resemblance to that in Post v. Regan, 677 F. Supp. 203 (S.D.N.Y.), aff'd mem., 854 F.2d 1315 (2d Cir. 1988), cert. denied, 488 U.S. 1043 (1989). In that case, plaintiff, a former employee of the defendant, an insurance brokerage, had been the supervisor of another employee who had made unauthorized investments of the brokerage's funds, resulting in the loss of over $ 100 million. When the situation was discovered, the chairman of the brokerage ordered an internal investigation by, among others, both inside and outside counsel. The plaintiff in that case was terminated as a result of the findings of the investigation.
At the annual shareholders meeting of the brokerage, the chairman read from written remarks concerning the losses. He noted that, "unknown to senior management, certain individuals" in the company "had engaged in unauthorized trading and financing activities and concealed it by entering incorrect investment data into the record-keeping system." Post, 677 F. Supp. at 205. He blamed poor supervision in part, and said that accordingly some of the company's supervisory personnel had been terminated. In response to a question following the meeting, he identified the plaintiff as among those who had been dismissed. Post, 677 F. Supp. at 205.
The employee sued for wrongful termination and defamation, claiming that the statements by the chairman falsely accused him of having taken part in the admitted wrongdoing, of having sought to cover it up, and implied that he had therefore been fired. Post, 677 F. Supp. at 207. Following discovery, defendants moved for summary judgment, which was granted in its entirety.
The Post court applied the Chapadeau test and, as here, the issue in Post became whether defendants had conducted and reported the results of their investigation in a grossly irresponsible manner, with plaintiff bearing the burden of proof on that issue. Post, 677 F. Supp. at 209; see Luisi v. JWT Group, Inc., N.Y.L.J., Sept. 18, 1987, at 7, col.3, 14 Media L. Rep. (BNA) 1731 (Sup. Ct. N.Y. County 1987). As in the case at bar, defendants' internal investigation in Post was conducted over a two month period, and included interviews of relevant parties and review of documents by inside and outside counsel, as well as corporate management. The Post court found that the defendants' internal investigation and subsequent reporting were conducted in a careful, responsible manner, and concluded that "based on the entire record, neither [defendant] acted in a grossly irresponsible manner, and plaintiff has not, by a preponderance of the evidence, shown that they did." Post, 677 F. Supp. at 209. The court granted summary judgment based on the Chapadeau standard, declining to decide whether the statements in issue were defamatory. Id.
Unlike the manifestly inadequate investigation at issue in Greenberg, defendants' investigation in the present case was conducted with the kind of thoroughness and rigor that was evidenced in Post. Based on the foregoing analysis, the court concludes that plaintiff has failed to raise a genuine issue of material fact as to grossly irresponsible conduct on the part of defendants in carrying out and reporting on their internal investigation. Plaintiff fails to carry the burden of proof required under Chapadeau. Accordingly, defendants' motion for summary judgment is GRANTED in so far as it addresses plaintiff's claim for defamation.
Defendants' motions for summary judgment as to plaintiff's wrongful termination and defamation claims are GRANTED. Based on the foregoing, the Clerk of the Court is hereby directed to dismiss with prejudice plaintiff's complaint in its entirety.
It is so ORDERED.
Dated: December 29, 1995
Syracuse, New York
HOWARD G. MUNSON
SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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