Howlan v. HireRight Solutions

U.S. DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
Torts

New York Law Journal

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Judge Mae D'Agostino

HireRight provides potential employers with an applicant's employment history and a criminal background check. Howlan retired in 2009. He alleged immediately before and after his retirement that six firms refused to hire him because they thought him a sex offender, based on HireRight's allegedly intentional, malicious publication of false information that his name, birth date and Social Security number matched that of a sex offender. The court granted HireRight summary judgment dismissing Howlan's lawsuit. In addition to finding that HireRight showed Howlan's lawsuit barred by New York's one-year statute of limitations for defamation, the court determined his libel claim failed on the merits. Even if Howlan could show that HireRight published a criminal history report—requested by Howlan—to a third party, that report did not contain false statements. Even if published to third parties, the only information the report provided was that HireRight and its co-defendants were unable to find any criminal convictions for Howlan. Howlan's unreasonable interpretation of the report as indicating him a sex offender in a jurisdiction not included within the report is insufficient to sustain his libel claim.

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