Local SEIU President Sued for Town Hall Statements

In 1997, the health care organization Beverly Enterprises sued the local president of the Service Employees International Union, accusing her of defaming an executive of the company in a one-on-one confrontation at a rally and at an informal town hall meeting called by five members of Congress.

The suit was dismissed for failure to state a claim by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. The judge ruled that statements made at the town hall meeting were protected by legislative immunity, and that the remarks made personally to the executive were made in anger and that no reasonable person would take them literally.

The appellate court affirmed the dismissal, but held that the statements made at the legislative proceeding did not constitute defamation, and so did not reach the question of legislative immunity.

See Beverly Enterprises, Inc. v. Trump, 182 F.3d 183 (1998).