In Thompson v. Hamm, No. W2015-00004-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Nov. 17, 2015), the Tennessee Court of Appeals addressed the issue of whether an affidavit provided to the City of Memphis as an employer of both plaintiff and defendant was enough to establish that defendant “instituted a wrongful prosecution” of plaintiff, ultimately deciding that it was not in the circumstances at play.
Plaintiff was the maintenance manager at a water treatment plant for the city, and during his time as manager the city allegedly received several complaints that plaintiff discriminated on the basis of race. Defendant gave the city an affidavit detailing instances of racial discrimination by plaintiff. After receiving the affidavit, the City hired an independent firm to investigate the claims, and as a result of the investigation decided to charge plaintiff with violations of city policy. The city held a hearing and ultimately terminated plaintiff. Plaintiff appealed his termination to the Civil Service Commission, who found that there was “tension” between plaintiff and defendant and issued a decision setting aside the termination. The Chancery Court affirmed the Commission, and plaintiff was reinstated to his position.
Based on defendant’s affidavit, plaintiff filed suit for malicious prosecution against defendant. Defendant moved for summary judgment on several grounds, which the trial court granted, rulding that defendant’s “only involvement in the City’s internal investigation was providing the City information regarding Plaintiff’s conduct. Such action on the part of Defendant Hamm does not constitute the initiation of a lawsuit or judicial proceeding against Plaintiff as is required to succeed on a claim for malicious prosecution.” On appeal, plaintiff raised several issues, but the Court only analyzed one in affirming summary judgment, finding it dispositive of the case—defendant’s argument that “his provision of information to the City [was] insufficient to establish that [defendant] instituted a wrongful prosecution[.]”