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Best Security Training & Associates, LLC v. Paragon Systems, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

June 13, 2016

BEST SECURITY TRAINING & ASSOCIATES, LLC
v.
PARAGON SYSTEMS, INC.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          DEBORAH K. CHASANOW United States District Judge.

         Presently pending and ready for resolution in this defamation case are the following motions: (1) a motion for summary judgment filed by Plaintiff Best Security Training & Associates, LLC ("Best Security" or "Plaintiff") (ECF No. 32); (2) a cross-motion for summary judgment filed by Defendant Paragon Systems, Inc. ("Paragon" or "Defendant") (ECF No. 34); and (3) a motion to seal partially an exhibit filed by Defendant (ECF No. 36). The relevant issues have been fully briefed, and the court now rules, no hearing being deemed necessary. Local Rule 105.6. For the following reasons, Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment will be denied. Defendant's cross-motion for summary judgment will be granted in part and denied in part, and its motion to file a redacted exhibit will be granted.

         I. Background

         A. Factual Background

         Unless otherwise noted, the following facts are undisputed. Best Security provides weapons and security training for individuals seeking positions with the Federal Protective Service ("FPS") at federal properties and various other positions that require a Maryland, Virginia, or District of Columbia security officer license. (ECF No. 32-1, at 4). Charles Gaskins, Best Security's owner and sole member, previously worked for CMS Training Academy & Protective Services, LLC ("CMS"), another security training company. (Id. at 5; ECF No. 34-1, at 4). On April 1, 2013, Mr. Gaskins left CMS to focus on building Best Security. (ECF No. 34-8, at 3).

         While at CMS, Mr. Gaskins provided training for individuals who were seeking employment as FPS security officers with Paragon. (ECF No. 32-1, at 5). Paragon contracts with FPS to provide security officers for federal properties. (ECF No. 34-1, at 2). While still employed by CMS, Mr. Gaskins approached Paragon about providing training for officers who would be working for Paragon pursuant to Paragon's new contract with FPS under which Paragon was to provide security for the United States Department of Homeland Security and the United States Coast Guard's new headquarters at St. Elizabeths in Washington, D.C. (ECF Nos. 34-1, at 5; 34-8, at 15). Best Security's first training class was scheduled for May 2013. (ECF Nos. 34-1, at 5; 34-8, at 19). Nicholas Hill, a Paragon employee at the time, was registered for the class but ultimately did not attend. The parties dispute why Mr. Hill did not attend the class: Plaintiff contends that Mr. Hill refused to satisfy the class's requirements, and Defendant asserts that Mr. Hill did not attend the class either because he learned that Best Security was unable to provide the FPS training he sought or due to confusion over the schedule. (ECF Nos. 32-1, at 5-6; 34-1, at 5, 9).

         According to Plaintiff, in June 2013, Yasimina Jackson completed a training class at Best Security and applied for a security guard position with Paragon. (ECF No. 32-1, at 6). Plaintiff avers that Paragon informed Ms. Jackson that Best Security "was not accredited to teach" an FPS security officer training course. (Id.). Mr. Gaskins sent an e-mail to Richard Waddell, a program manager at Paragon, asking why Ms. Jackson was told Best Security was not accredited. (ECF No. 34-13). Mr. Waddell informed Mr. Gaskins that there was an issue with Best Security's "exhibits, " and requested that Best Security "refrain from sending personnel to Paragon for employment [because Paragon] cannot accept [Best Security's] exhibits." (Id.).[1] According to Mr. Gaskins, Paragon continued to accept Exhibits he signed when working at CMS but did not accept exhibits he, Mr. Hill sent an email to eighty-six unidentified individuals:

         Good morning,

Unfortunately due to our training department[']s investigation into the accreditation of BEST SECURITY (Mr. Charles Gaskins)[, ] they have found that this Security company has not been accredited and therefore we cannot use the exhibits. I apologize for this[;] I have just found out from our training department. If this pertains to you please reply to this email.
Respectfully,
Hill, Nicholas
Paragon Systems

         (ECF No. 32-4, at 2). According to Plaintiff, three of the six students enrolled in a training class withdrew and requested a refund after receiving Mr. Hill's e-mail. (ECF No. 32-1, at 7). Plaintiff also contends that it lost ...


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