Frank B. Hall & Co. v. Buck – Case Brief Summary (Texas)

In Frank B. Hall & Co. v. Buck, 678 S.W.2d 612 (Tex. App.--Houston 14th Dist. 1984, writ ref'd n.r.e.), the plaintiff, an established salesman, was abruptly fired and was unable to find another job.

Buck hired an investigator to determine the real reason he was fired, and his former employer made defamatory statements about him to the investigator. 678 S.W.2d at 617.

When Buck sued for defamation, his former employer argued the statements were invited and therefore could not form the basis of a defamation claim. Id.

The Court rejected the employer's argument, noting "there is nothing in the record to indicate that Buck knew his former employer would defame him when the investigator made the inquiries." Id.

The jury, considering the elements of lost earnings, mental anguish, humiliation, embarrassment, and damage to reputation and character, awarded actual damages for defamation.

The court of appeals made no mention that it was inappropriate to award damages for embarrassment and humiliation in a defamation context. Id.