project44 Addresses Illinois Supreme Court Decision in project44 v. FourKites

Illinois Supreme Court Rules Against FourKites

CHICAGO, March 22, 2024 — Yesterday, the Illinois Supreme Court issued a decision ruling in favor of project44 in its defamation lawsuit against competitor FourKites, concluding that emails sent to project44’s Board of Directors and executives from fake Gmail accounts connected with FourKites were “published” and therefore could be pursued as defamation.

This case began in 2019 when “anonymous” emails were sent to project44 Board members and executives making unfounded allegations of outrageous conduct without any evidence. The emails were tied to phone numbers listed for a FourKites corporate entity and its CEO, Matt Elenjickal. The issue in the case was whether sending these emails to project44’s Board and executives was sufficient “publication” under Illinois defamation law. While the trial court originally found it was not, in November 2022, the Appellate Court of Illinois disagreed and found this kind of communication was indeed published and supported a claim of defamation concluding the law should not be used to “protect those who transmit false message in bad faith.”

The Supreme Court agreed and in a unanimous 7-0 decision ruled that “a corporation has a distinct reputation from that of its management level employees and an interest in protecting that reputation among its employees and the public at large. Therefore, defamatory statements made to corporate employees, even those with the power to act on behalf of the corporation, can harm the corporation’s business reputation among those employees.”

“The Supreme Court agreed and clearly understood the harm such defamatory content can cause even when sent just to an organization’s own leadership team and Board members,” project44 General Counsel, Jennifer Coyne said, “This decision holds competitors accountable for attempted sabotage by anonymously sending harmful falsehoods to corporate decisionmakers.”

Following the judgment, the case will be remanded back to the trial court with the new legal precedent applied. Project44 looks forward to continuing to press its claims against FourKites.