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ARVEY CORP. v. PETERSON

October 30, 1959

ARVEY CORPORATION
v.
William PETERSON and Berlin and Jones Company, Division of Harrison-Blaine, Inc.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: EGAN

This matter is now before the Court on plaintiff's motion to dismiss the two counts of the amended counterclaim filed by William Peterson.

The second count of the counterclaim is based upon an alleged libelous letter written by the plaintiff and the motion to dismiss raises some very novel questions in the law of defamation.

 Under generally recognized conflict of laws principles, the substantive law to be applied in a tort action is that of the place of the wrong; in this case, the place where the defamatory statement is communicated. Restatement, Conflict of Laws, 377(5); Allison v. Mennonite Publication Board, D.C.W.D.Pa.1954, 123 F.Supp. 23; Hartmann v. Time, Inc., 3 Cir., 1947, 166 F.2d 127, 1 A.L.R.2d 370; Campbell v. Willmark Service System, Inc., 3 Cir., 1941, 123 F.2d 204.

 The plaintiff first contends that as a matter of law, the letter set forth below is not defamatory:

 'Registered Mail

 Return Receipt Requested

 TRANSO ENVELOPE COMPANY Robert B. Shapiro

 Executive Vice President

 3542 North Kimball Avenue Chicago 18, Illinois September 18, 1958.

 Wesley H. Caldwell, Esq., 618 Western Saving Fund Bldg.

 Philadelphia 7, Pennsylvania

 Re: William R. Peterson

 Dear Mr. Caldwell:

 Reference is made to your letter of September 12, 1958, concerning the above former employee, directed to our Eastern Division, which has been referred to the undersigned.

 Your investigation and information is apparently in error. There is no balance of any salary due Mr. Peterson for any services rendered by him for which he has not been paid. On the contrary, among other things, Mr. Peterson is indebted to the Company in the sum of $ 1,329.57, overdraw of advances made to him during the period of his employment.

 A demand for repayment of the above has been delayed, pending completion of the investigation which is still incomplete. This involves areas of possible serious liability concerning your client. We are still awaiting the opinion of the Federal District Attorney.

 In the interest of assistance to your client, you may wish to check into this further. Upon doing so, it may be advisable to confer with our Company counsel, Mr. Louis A. McLean, at Independence 3-1400 concerning the same and your client's legal accountability and liabilities.

 Yours very ...


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