United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division
GRANT A. LIVERETT, Plaintiff,
DYNCORP INTERNATIONAL LLC, Defendant.
Ellis, III Judge.
issue in this defamation and tortious interference with
business expectancy case is whether the undisputed factual
record warrants the entry of summary judgment on both claims.
Specifically, defendant argues that plaintiff has failed to
establish a valid claim for defamation:
(i) because defendant is entitled to absolute immunity for
defendant's allegedly defamatory statements;
(ii) because those statements were true; and
(iii) because defendant, in making those statements, did not
know the statements were false or negligently fail to
discover their falsity.
also contends that summary judgment is appropriate on
plaintiff's tortious interference claim because defendant
did not use improper means or methods in any alleged
interference with plaintiff's business expectancy.
opposes defendant's motion, arguing (i) that defendant is
not entitled to immunity, and (ii) that there are disputes of
material fact regarding whether defendant's statements
were false and whether defendant acted with the requisite
intent. Plaintiff also contends that defendant used improper
means in interfering with plaintiff's contract.
matters have been fully briefed and argued and are now ripe
for decision. For the reasons that follow, defendant's
motion for summary judgment on both claims must be granted,
albeit not on all of the grounds defendant advances.
Grant Liverett, is a resident of Charleston, South Carolina
and a former employee of defendant. Defendant, DynCorp
International LLC, is a Delaware corporation with its
principal place of business in Mclean, Virginia.
December 4, 2012, plaintiff signed a Foreign Service
Employment Agreement (“FSEA”) with defendant to
serve as an Armed Guard at Camp Bondsteel, a U.S. Army base
in Kosovo, for a one year period from November 30, 2012 until
November 29, 2012. On November 26, 2013, plaintiff signed a
second FSEA to serve as Armed Guard Post Supervisor at Camp
Bondsteel from November 30, 2013 until November 29, 2014. In
his role as Armed Guard Post Supervisor, plaintiff was
responsible for searching vehicles and visitors entering the
base for alcohol, explosives, weapons and other contraband.
In the event that plaintiff encountered contraband in his
searches, he was responsible for notifying his Force
Protection Office Center (“FPOC”) supervisor on
part of his role as Armed Guard Post Supervisor, plaintiff
was also trained on U.S. Army general orders and Camp
Bondsteel battle drills, including General Order #1 and
Battle Drill #17. General Order #1 is a U.S. Army policy that
prohibits the “introduction, possession, use, sale,
transfer, manufacture, or consumption of any alcoholic
beverage or controlled substance.” The Task Force
Policy related to General Order #1 specifies that
“[a]lclohol will not be provided to any military person
or DoD civilian.” Battle Drill #17 is a related U.S.
Army policy, specific to Camp Bondsteel. Battle Drill #17
establishes procedures for when persons attempt to enter Camp
Bondsteel with unauthorized items, including alcohol.
Specifically, Battle Drill #17 provides that the contract
guard force personnel must immediately notify the FPOC
supervisor “of all prohibited items found at the
gate” and specifies that “[n]o items will be held
for safekeeping by any contract guard
personnel.” The record makes clear that plaintiff was
well aware of and trained in General Order #1 and Battle
events at issue here occurred on September 23, 2014, and the
material facts of that event are not disputed:
• Lieutenant Colonel Pelham and a group of Serbian Army
personnel arrived at Gate 1 where plaintiff was serving as
Armed Guard Post Supervisor and attempted to bring a bottle
of Raki, an alcoholic drink, onto the base as a gift for the
base commander. See Pl. Dep. 100:16-104:11.
• On learning about the existence of the bottle of Raki,
plaintiff did not immediately report the attempt to bring the
bottle of Raki to his FPOC supervisor as required by Battle
Drill #17. See Pl Dep. 67:2-19, 149:4-16.
• Instead, plaintiff stored the bottle of Raki in the
Gate 1 supervisor shack. See Pl. Dep. 105:1-9,
106:2-21. If Lieutenant Colonel Pelham returned to the guard
shack before the end of plaintiff s shift, plaintiff would
have allowed him to retrieve the bottle of Raki. See
Pl. Dep. 145:2-146:14.
• At the end of plaintiff s shift, when no one returned
to retrieve the bottle of Raki, plaintiff poured out the
contents of the bottle of Raki and discarded the bottle.
See Pl. Dep. 149:17-22.
• Later that day, FPOC Supervisor Johnathan Stanley
(“Stanley”), another employee of defendant,
contacted plaintiff about the incident and advised plaintiff
to fill out an incident report about the incident.
• Plaintiff, FPOC Supervisor Stanley, and an additional
post supervisor subsequently completed incident reports
describing the incident.
• After reviewing the incident reports, Wade Childs
(“Childs”), plaintiffs supervisor and an employee
of defendant, reported the incident to the U.S.
• Specifically, Childs told the U.S. Army that (i)
plaintiff confiscated the bottle of alcohol from visitors to
the base and “continued to hold it”; (ii)
plaintiff planned to return the bottle of alcohol to military
personnel if they came back to retrieve it; (iii) plaintiff
held the bottle of alcohol at the supervisor shack for
safekeeping; and (iv) plaintiff failed to notify the FPOC