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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Barry Oliphint began working for a subsidiary of Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. in 1984. He moved around the company until 1991. Scott Richards was one of Oliphint’s supervisors from 1989 to 1991. Oliphint was fired after a heated exchange with another of Oliphint’s supervisors, Jimmy Lee. Oliphint said he wanted to quit anyway because he didn’t want to work with Lee anymore. Richards eventually wrote that Oliphint was terminated for performance and other problems, all of which were related to alcohol. When Oliphint was interviewing for a job a few months later, the interviewer called Oliphint a liar when Oliphint said he quit his job with Jacobs. The interviewer said, “that’s not what Jacobs told me.” Oliphint got another job and moved around to various other jobs through the 1990s. During that process, he was turned down from another job because of a suspected negative recommendation from Richards. In 2000, Oliphint hired a private investigator to check all of Oliphint’s references. The human resources representative at Jacobs would only confirm Oliphint’s dates of employment and position held. When the investigator called Richards directly, Richards told the P.I. that Oliphint had been fired for substance abuse problems. Oliphint sued Richards and Jacobs for defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence. He denied ever having had a substance abuse problem. The trial court granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment. HOLDING:Affirmed. Though Oliphint may not have known the exact words Richards would say when called for a reference, the undisputed evidence shows that Oliphint clearly had reason to expect that Richards would say something defamatory when the interviewer in 1991 called him a liar and told that Jacobs had said Oliphint had not quit. Then, by hiring an investigator to check his references under these circumstances, Oliphint invited the defamation, and his claim is therefore time-barred. The court also holds that Oliphint’s claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress is based solely on the alleged defamatory statement made to the investigator. However, the Texas Supreme Court has held in Hoffman-La Roche Inc. v. Zeltwanger, 144 S.W.3d 438 (Tex. 2004), that intentional infliction of emotional distress is a gap-filler tort that has no application when the conduct at issue invades some other legally-protected interest. Finally, the court holds that Oliphint cannot maintain a negligence claim based solely on a duty not to defame. OPINION:Yates, J.; Yates, Edelman and Guzman, JJ.

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