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Teare v. Local Union No. 295 of the United Ass'n of Journeymen and Apprentices of Plumbers and Pipe Fitters Industry of United States and Canada

Supreme Court of Florida

November 6, 1957

Harry E. TEARE, Appellant,
v.
LOCAL UNION NO. 295, OF THE UNITED ASSOCIATION OF JOURNEYMEN AND APPRENTICES OF THE PLUMBERS AND PIPE FITTERS INDUSTRY OF THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA; Hugh K. Rule, Individually and as Business Agent for Local Union No. 295 of the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbers and Pipe Fitters Industry of the United States and Canada, Appellees.

Page 80

Thomas A. Koehler, Daytona Beach, for appellant.

Berrien H. Becks, Daytona Beach, for appellees.

THORNAL, Justice.

Appellant Teare, who was plaintiff below, seeks reversal of a judgment in favor of the

Page 81

appellees, Rule and Local Union No. 295, who were defendants below, in an action for damages resulting from the alleged slander of the appellant by the appellees.

Our decision must turn on whether the words used by Rule were slanderous per se or on the other hand whether the spoken words were qualifiedly privileged.

Appellant Teare was a plumber engaged in his trade in Volusia County. He had a contract to do the plumbing work on a building which was being constructed by Edmund and Margaret Flagg. The Hawes brothers were general foremen and masonry contractors. The Hawes were members of the Local Masons Union. Teare was not a member of the Local Plumbers Union. Appellee Rule was the business agent for Local Union No. 295 of the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbers and Pipe Fitters Industry of the United States and Canada. While the Flagg building was under construction, Mr. Rule in the company of the Hawes brothers went to see Mr. and Mrs. Flagg and allegedly made the the following statements to them:

' If Mr. Teare continued on the job, none of the other sub-contractors would be allowed to work.

' That for the sake of your health you are making a mistake in engaging Mr. Teare, since his work is known to be unsatisfactory and will not pass inspection.

' That Mr. Teare's work has been repeatedly found to be unsatisfactory.'

The numbering of the quoted paragraphs has been inserted by us for convenience of later reference to the alleged slanderous statements.

Substantially the same statements were later made by Mr. Rule at the Union Hall when Mr. and Mrs. Flagg called upon him in an effort to obtain the consent of the Union to the partial completion of their job by Mr. Teare.

When Mr. Rule remained adamant in his position the Flaggs thereupon cancelled the plumbing contract with Teare and proceeded to employ Union plumbers to complete the job.

Deeming himself to have been damaged by the statements, Teare instituted this action against Rule and the Plumbers ...


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