Genberg v. Porter, No. 16-1368 (10th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
Carl Genberg was an executive for Ceragenix Corporation when he suspected misconduct by the Company's Board of Directors. When he acted on these alleged suspicions, he was fired. He sued Ceragenix's Chief Executive Officer for retaliation under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and defamation under Nevada law. The district court granted summary judgment to the CEO on both claims. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part. The Court concluded a reasonable factfinder could have concluded two emails at the heart of this case could have been viewed as protected activities that had contributed to Genberg’s termination, or the absence of which would not have lead to his termination. Either way, the Court concluded the CEO was not entitled to summary judgment based on the same-action defense with respect to these emails. Because the district court found otherwise, the Court reversed the district court’s grant of summary judgment to the CEO on the Sarbanes-Oxley claim. Regarding the defamation claim, the Court affirmed the district court’s award of summary judgment: the CEO's statements fell under the common-interest privilege, and Genberg did not present evidence of an abuse of the privilege.
The court issued a subsequent related opinion or order on April 19, 2018.