A Georgia court has dismissed part of a lawsuit brought by a former employee of the Coca-Cola Company alleging a conspiracy to cheat shareholders, customers and competitors.

Judge Elizabeth Long of the Superior Court of Fulton County said Matthew Whitley had failed to prove that that he was directly injured by an alleged racketeering scheme in the soft drink giant's food services division.

Whitley was sacked in March as part of a major restructuring at Coke's North American division. He brought a US$44.4m suit for wrongful dismissal alleging that he had been sacked because of evidence he had of Coke's alleged malfeasance.

Judge Long threw out claims that Coke had committed a breach of contract and violated its fiduciary duty in its dealings with him but has allowed Long to pursue legal claims that the company had intentionally inflicted emotional distress, maligned his character and invaded his privacy.

Coke described the ruling as significant victory. "We are very pleased that the court dismissed the vast majority of the plaintiff's claims," the company said. "We are confident that we will prevail once the facts are presented in the appropriate forum, which is a court of law."

However, Witley's attorneys were also sanguine following the ruling, saying it was a huge victory because Coke and the other defendants will now have to testify under oath about all the issues in the complaint.