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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Jane Anne Bryant filed suit against Lucent Technologies Inc. for wrongful termination, breach of contract, intentional infliction of emotional distress, assault and battery, negligent supervision, fraud and defamation. The trial court granted Lucent’s motion for summary judgment on the assault and battery, negligent supervision, fraud and defamation claims and granted Lucent’s motion for directed verdict on the wrongful termination claim. A jury rendered a take-nothing verdict on the intentional infliction of emotional distress and breach of contract claims. HOLDING:The court affirms the judgment as to Bryant’s claims for wrongful termination, intentional infliction of emotional distress and assault and battery. The court reverses the judgment as to Bryant’s defamation claim and remands this cause to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. Bryant contends in her first issue that the trial court erred by granting Lucent’s motion for directed verdict on her wrongful termination claim because she presented some evidence that she was forced to resign because she refused to perform an illegal act. Specifically, Bryant contends that her supervisor instructed her to provide sales leads at no cost to certain dealers in violation of the Robinson-Patman Act. The court finds that the essence of Bryant’s complaint is that her supervisor demanded that she provide this information (i.e., sales leads) to some dealers at no cost while charging other dealers for the same information. But the court holds that the provision of sales leads to dealers by Lucent does not constitute the sale of goods or commodities under the Robinson-Patman Act. Accordingly, the trial court properly directed a verdict in favor of Lucent on Bryant’s wrongful termination claim. Bryant next contends that the trial court abused its discretion by refusing to permit her counsel to argue that the facts surrounding her termination could be considered in deliberating on her intentional infliction of emotional distress claim. The court finds that Bryant’s testimony about her termination and the reasons for it is relevant evidence of whether her supervisor engaged in a course of conduct which was extreme and outrageous. Because this evidence is relevant, the court holds that the trial court abused its discretion by refusing to permit Bryant’s counsel to discuss it in closing argument. But the court points out that such error does not require reversal unless it “probably caused the rendition of an improper judgment.” The court finds that even if counsel had been permitted to draw a direct correlation between Bryant’s forced resignation and her dispute with her supervisor about marketing practices allowed under the act, Bryant would have failed as a matter of law to establish her claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. Therefore, the court holds that the trial court’s erroneous restriction on Bryant’s closing argument did not result in the rendition of an improper judgment. Bryant then contends that the court erred by granting Lucent’s summary judgment motion on her assault and battery claim because genuine issues of material fact remain on the question of whether her assailant was acting within the course and scope of his employment. To prove that an assault was committed within the scope of an employee assailant’s authority, a plaintiff must show that “the assault [wa]s committed to accomplish a duty entrusted to the employee.” The court holds that Lucent conclusively established that Bryant’s assailant did not assault her to accomplish a duty entrusted to the assailant by Lucent. Thus, the trial court properly granted Lucent’s summary judgment motion on Bryant’s claim for assault and battery. Finally, Bryant contends that the court erred by granting Lucent’s summary judgment motion on her defamation claim because she produced some evidence that Lucent published a defamatory statement and Lucent failed to conclusively establish that the alleged defamatory statement was qualifiedly privileged. Bryant claimed that “Lucent has . . . incorrectly identified me as a Marketing Manager rather than a Marketing Director to third parties.” The court finds, therefore, that Bryant produced more than a scintilla of evidence that Lucent mischaracterized her position to third parties (i.e., that Lucent published this mischaracterization to third parties). Therefore, the court erred by granting Lucent’s summary judgment motion on Bryant’s defamation claim. OPINION:Reyna, J.; Wright and McCall, JJ.

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