United States District Court, D. Arizona
G. CAMPBELL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
All American Games, LLC (“AAG”) has moved for
partial summary judgment on Plaintiff Chad Carpenter's
defamation claim. Doc. 37. The motion is fully briefed (Docs.
39, 41), and no party has requested oral argument. For
reasons that follow, the Court will deny the
through its subsidiary Football University, LLC, operates a
national youth football tournament and football camps in more
than 20 U.S. markets, including camps in Phoenix, Seattle,
Denver, and various cities in California. Doc. 38 ¶ 1.
Carpenter is a former AAG employee. Id. ¶ 2. As
AAG's “West Coast Director, ” Carpenter was
responsible for recruiting athletes to participate in the
camps in his region and recruiting teams to participate in
the national tournament. Id. In 2015 Carpenter was
being paid a base salary of $65, 000 and was eligible to
receive commissions based on his camp and tournament
enrollment revenue. Id. ¶ 3.
was terminated on June 10, 2015. On the same day, AAG's
chairman, Douglas Berman, sent the following e-mail to 54
As of this morning, AAG terminated its employment of Chad
Carpenter. Without going further, this move was necessitated
because of conduct that was violative of the norms of
integrity and professionalism expected of members of the AAG
We will be adjusting in the short term to execute the LA camp
and coordinate the transition of other responsibilities for
territories that Chad was responsible for.
Chairman/CEO, All American Games, LLC
Doc. 37-1 at 11-12; Doc. 38 ¶ 10. Carpenter asserts a
defamation claim based on this e-mail.
parties offer conflicting explanations of the circumstances
leading up to the email. AAG alleges that in May 2015 it
“uncovered a troubling and improper relationship
between Plaintiff and another former employee, ” Karen
King, which prompted an investigation and ultimately led to
Carpenter's termination. Doc. 37-1 ¶ 5. AAG claims
that King was manipulating AAG's financial systems to
inflate revenue numbers and that it “found considerable
evidence that Plaintiff was fully knowledgeable of
[King's] fraudulent actions.” Id.
¶¶ 6, 8. AAG cites two additional reasons for the
termination: Carpenter offered discounts to customers without
authorization to inflate his revenue and was “gross[ly]
insubordinate[e] with respect to his supervisor, ”
Steve Quinn. Id. ¶¶ 9-10. Carpenter
disputes each of these reasons and claims that AAG conducted
a “half-baked” investigation and fired him
because it was struggling financially and Quinn did not like
him. Doc. 39-1 at 3, 5. Carpenter asserts that neither he nor
King manipulated financial records, and that the
“considerable evidence” AAG claimed to possess is
discredited by his controverting evidence. Doc. 39-1 at 2-5.
support its claim that it had considerable evidence of
financial misreporting, AAG produces various e-mail threads
between Carpenter and King, in which the two discuss reaching
a certain revenue amount for Carpenter to receive a higher
commission. Doc. 39-1 at 17-18; Doc. 37-1 at 7-9. In these
e-mails, Carpenter states: “[b]etter get over a 250 FPE
seriously Karen, ” and King makes statements such as
“[w]e will get you the higher payout [f]or
Seattle” and “I will do everything I can to make
it happen . . . [e]ven if I have to sell my soul to the
devil.” Id. Carpenter's declaration
explains that the e-mails do not suggest fraud, but simply
evidence tactics he used to motivate his team to reach their
target FPE numbers - part of his job. Doc. 39-1 at 3.
also produces screenshots from its accounting systems, AGGIS
and Cybersource, which allegedly prove that King misreported
revenue on eight occasions. Doc. 39-1 at 13-15, 26-43. AGGIS
was used to track customers and report revenue for
calculating commissions, while Cybersource was used to
process actual payments received. Doc. 39-1 at 15-16. AAG
identifies eight instances where there were discrepancies
between the amount King reported in AGGIS and the amount
actually processed in Cybersource. Doc. 39-1 at 14-15.
Carpenter responds with a number of explanations, including
that AGGIS experienced technical glitches during the 2015
camps that may have caused the discrepancies, and that
participants often pay portions of their fee in cash when
they arrive at camp, but the cash receipts are not always
reflected in AGGIS. Doc. 39-1 at 2-3, 5. Carpenter also
argues that the screenshots AAG provided are illegible, some
of the corresponding screenshots appear to have ...