Argued: May 9, 2018
from the United States District Court for the Eastern
District of Virginia, at Richmond. Henry E. Hudson, Senior
District Judge. (3:17-cv-00128-HEH)
Richard F. Hawkins, III, THE HAWKINS LAW FIRM, PC, Richmond,
Virginia, for Appellant.
D. Marcuss, MCGUIREWOODS LLP, Baltimore, Maryland, for
T. Simons, MCGUIREWOODS LLP, Baltimore, Maryland, for
WILKINSON, and NIEMEYER, Circuit Judges, and Richard M.
GERGEL, United States District Judge for the District of
South Carolina, sitting by designation.
WILKINSON, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
Sade Garnett took off work to undergo a medical procedure,
her coworker Aaron Try engaged in crude, baseless, and
ignorant speculation about the reasons for her absence.
Garnett filed this defamation suit against their mutual
employer, Remedi SeniorCare of Virginia. The district court
concluded that the statement was not defamatory and dismissed
the suit. We affirm, but on different grounds. The alleged
statement, while offensive and odious, will not support an
action against Remedi under Virginia law because a company
cannot be held liable for employee statements made outside
the scope of employment.
SeniorCare is an institutional pharmacy that ships
medications to nursing homes and other long-term care
facilities. Garnett worked at its Ashland, Virginia location,
often alongside Try, a night supervisor.
January 14, 2015, Garnett told Try she would be out the next
day to undergo surgery. During that absence, Garnett alleges
that Try told other Remedi employees that "Sade was
having surgery on her vagina because she got a STD [be]cause
that's the only reason a female gets surgery on her
vagina, " and that "Sade was having a biopsy of her
vagina." J.A. 67.
filed suit against Remedi in the Circuit Court for the City
of Richmond. Remedi removed the case to the United States
District Court for the Eastern ...