Remember Noonan v. Staples? That was the 1st Circuit decision I described as the most dangerous libel decision in decades. In it, the court upended the bedrock principle of libel law that truth is an absolute defense. It said that even a true statement can be subject to a libel lawsuit if it was said with actual malice.
At issue in the case was an e-mail sent by a Staples executive to some 1,500 employees about the termination of Alan Noonan, a Staples sales director. The e-mail said -- truthfully -- that Noonan was terminated after a company investigation determined that he had violated Staples' travel and expense policies.
The 1st Circuit remanded the case to the district court for trial. Reportedly, the trial is now complete and a jury last week rendered its verdict. The jury found no malice on the part of Staples and returned a verdict in the company's favor.
I learned this from National Law Journal reporter Tresa Baldas, who posted a report on the verdict this afternoon.