D. Warren, Justice
the court is a motion by defendant Maine Medical Center (MMC)
to dismiss plaintiff Robert Lavin's amended complaint for
defamation. Lavin alleges that he was an employee of MMC and
that he was falsely accused by "management" of
being under the influence of alcohol at work. Amended
Complaint ¶ 8.
state a cause of action for defamation, the Plaintiff must
(a) a false and defamatory statement concerning another;
(b) an unprivileged publication to a third party;
(c) fault amounting to at least to negligence on the part of
the publisher; and
(d) either actionability of the statement irrespective of
special harm or the existence of special harm caused by the
Morgan v. Kooistra, 2008 ME 26 ¶ 26, 941 A.2d
447; Restatement (Second) Torts § 558.
harm" in the context of defamation means economic or
pecuniary harm. Restatement (Second) Torts § 575 comment
b. A defamatory communication may be actionable without
special harm if the defamatory communication would adversely
affect the plaintiff in his business or profession (slander
per se) or if the defamatory communication is written
(libel). See Cookson v. Brewer School
District, 2009 ME 57 ¶ 27, 974 A.2d 276;
Ballard v. Wagner, 2005 ME 86 ¶ 10, 877 A.2d
has asserted two counts in his complaint. Count I sets forth
a claim of defamation. Count II sets forth a claim for
"slander/libel per se" asserting that the alleged
defamation by MMC falls within the subcategories of
defamation that, as noted above, do not require proof of
economic or pecuniary damages.
Lavin's amended complaint includes factual allegations
that he was falsely accused of being under the influence at
work, allegedly in retaliation for some complaints he made
about inappropriate conduct by other employees, it provides
almost no detail as to the alleged defamation itself.
purposes of a motion to dismiss, the material allegations of
the complaint must be taken as admitted. The complaint must
be read in the light most favorable to plaintiff to determine
if it sets forth elements of a cause of action or alleges
facts that would entitle petitioner to relief pursuant to
some legal theory. In re Wage Payment Litigation,
2000 ME 162 ¶ 3, 759A.2d217.
same time, the court is not obliged to accept conclusory
allegations and legal conclusions that are bereft of any
supporting factual allegations. In this case count I of the
amended complaint simply recites the elements of defamation
(Amended Complaint ¶¶ 18-22), stating only that the
defamatory statement was communicated "through
inter-company "communication and self-published by
plaintiff." Amended Complaint ¶ 21. Moreover, there
is no direct allegation of special harm except an apparent
reference to the ad damnum clause. Amended Complaint ¶
22. This is insufficient.
although Count II purports to be a claim for both slander per
se and libel, it merely recites the elements of slander per
se and nowhere alleges that the defamation was ...