Credibility = Fact Issue, Again

After recent opinions finding that credibility determinations led to fact issues in cases about whether a barge hit a bridge and a prison fight, the Fifth Circuit again so held in Vaughan v. Carlock Nissan of Tupelo, No. 12-60568 (Feb. 4, 2014, unpublished). Vaughan alleged that a car dealership unlawfully terminated her after she reported several irregularities there to Nissan.  The Fifth Circuit affirmed summary judgment for the dealership as to Mississippi’s “illegal act” exception to at-will employment, but reversed as to her tortious interference claim against the supervisor who terminated her.  That claim requires proof of bad faith, which Vaughan sought to establish by showing that she was not fired until making a complaint that specifically named the supervisor.  The supervisor admitted that, at the time of termination, he knew Vaughan had complained to Nissan but said “he did not know the contents of the complaint.”  The Fifth Circuit found that credibility issues about his claimed justifications for the firing, coupled with the ambiguity of his statement that Vaughn had “no right to report these things to Nissan,” and the timing of the termination, created a fact issue that made summary judgment unwarranted.

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