the plaintiffs have not produced and I have not discovered any Pennsylvania case that rejects Yetter 's holding, I find that Pennsylvania law does not recognize compelled self-publication as constituting publication for defamation purposes when the initial communication is from an employer to an employee regarding the reasons for the employee's dismissal.
2. Request for Leave to Amend
With regard to the request for leave to amend, the plaintiffs in their Reply Memorandum have alleged that Nationwide sent letters to the plaintiffs' former clients, informing these clients that the plaintiffs were no longer employed by Nationwide. The plaintiffs allege that these letters implied that the plaintiffs were guilty of some impropriety. Reply Memorandum, at 27. Nationwide responds that these letters could not have been defamatory because they only stated a true fact, that the plaintiffs were no longer associated with Nationwide.
The fact that a communication was true is usually a complete defense to a charge of defamation. U.S. Healthcare v. Blue Cross of Gr. Philadelphia, 898 F.2d 914, 923 (3d Cir. 1990), cert. denied, 498 U.S. 816, 111 S. Ct. 58, 112 L. Ed. 2d 33 (1990). Even true statements, however, must be read in context; "the literal accuracy of individual statements will not insulate a defendant from liability where the overall impression left by those statements is false." Coughlin v. Westinghouse Broadcasting & Cable, Inc., 603 F. Supp. 377, 385 (E.D. Pa.), aff'd, 780 F.2d 340 (3d Cir. 1985), cert. denied, 476 U.S. 1187, 91 L. Ed. 2d 554, 106 S. Ct. 2927 (1986). While the complaint makes it clear that the plaintiffs were indeed terminated from their employment, the context and the exact language of any communications from Nationwide to the plaintiffs' customers have not been pled and so is not known to me. Therefore, I cannot determine whether the plaintiffs could successfully plead a cause of action for defamation based on these alleged letters.
Because I find that Pennsylvania law does not allow a defamation claim based on compelled self-publication, I will grant Nationwide's motion to dismiss as to Count VIII. In addition, I will grant plaintiffs leave to amend their complaint so as to include a new claim of defamation based on the alleged letters from Nationwide to the former customers of plaintiffs.
For the foregoing reasons, Nationwide's motion to dismiss plaintiffs' complaint will be granted as to Counts III, IV, and VIII and denied as to Counts I, II, and V. Therefore, Counts III, IV, and VIII will be dismissed with prejudice. In addition, Nationwide's motion to dismiss will be denied without prejudice as to Counts VI and VII; plaintiffs are given leave to amend Counts VI and VII and are given leave to amend in order to allege a new claim of defamation. Plaintiff Vassallo's claim under Count I will be stayed until November 4, 1994.
An appropriate Order follows.
AND NOW, this 22nd day of September, 1994, upon consideration of the motion of defendants Nationwide Mutual Insurance, et al. to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) (Document No. 4) and the responses of the plaintiffs thereto, for the reasons stated in the attached memorandum, it is hereby ORDERED that:
1) As to Counts III, IV, and VIII of the complaint, the motion is GRANTED. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Counts III, IV, and VIII are DISMISSED with prejudice.