Presentation on theme: "Libel: Summary Judgment"— Presentation transcript:
1 Libel: Summary Judgment Summary Judgment - a judgment is granted to a party in a lawsuit when the pleadings and other materials in the case disclose no material issue of fact between the partiesAll facts of the case must be agreed upon for a summary judgment to be made
2 Libel: Summary Judgment Procedure for Summary Judgment:Plaintiff makes initial written allegations to the courtDefendant may argue for a summary judgment if:The plaintiff has failed to prove what is necessary to sustain the libel suitThere is a legal defense that blocks the suit
3 Libel: Summary Judgment Procedure for Summary Judgment:Court determines if a reasonable juror, acting reasonably, could find in favor of the plaintiffIf “yes” could find in favor of the plaintiff, case goes to trialIf “no” could not find in favor of the plaintiff, a summary judgment is granted
4 Libel: Statute of Limitations Statue of Limitations – a law that requires that a legal action must begin within a specified period of timeFor libel, statutes of limitations vary from state to stateMost often one or two years
5 Libel: Statute of Limitations A Statute of Limitations Begins When:The material is published or broadcast for the first timeFor magazines, the statute of limitations begins the day the magazine is distributed to a substantial portion of its audience, not the date printed on the publicationRepublication?
6 Libel: JurisdictionA libel suit can be brought in any state in which the libel has been circulated regularlyVenue Shopping – choosing a state that has laws favorable to your legal actionKeeton v. Hustler (1984)She’s in New York, Hustler is in Ohio, she sues in New Hampshire (6 year statute of limitations)Upheld as not only the subject, but the readers are damaged.
7 Libel: Jurisdiction and the Internet The U.S. Supreme Court has passed on at least three cases involving libel jurisdiction and the InternetLower courts are still sorting out where Internet-based libel suits can or should be heard
8 Privileged Communications Absolute Privilege - immunity from libel suits granted to government officials and others based on remarks uttered or written as part of their official duties
9 Privileged Communications Qualified Privilege – protection granted to journalists reporting on privileged communicationA media outlet is protected by qualified privilege if:The material comes directly from the report of a privileged proceeding or documentThe material is a fair and accurate summary published or broadcast as a report of the proceedings or documents
10 Privileged Communications Neutral Reportage - it is permissible to publish an accurate account of information about a public figure from a reliable source even when the reporter doubts its truthOnly upheld in a handful of courts; not the legal standard nationwideMust be newsworthy or associated with public controversyMust be made by a prominent and responsible sourceMust be accurate and neutralMust be about a public official or figure
11 Protection of OpinionRhetorical Hyperbole - language so exaggerated the reader or listener knows it is only an opinion
12 Protection of OpinionMilkovich Standard – pure opinion is a statement incapable of being proven true or false
13 Protection of Opinion The Ollman Test: Can the statement be proved true or false?What is the common or ordinary meaning of the words?What is the journalistic context of the work?What is the social context of the remark?
14 Protection of Opinion Fair Comment and Criticism The common law defense for opinion. Lawyers tend to rely on Constitutional defenses now.Is it an opinion?Is it a subject of legitimate public concern?Is there a factual basis for the comment?
15 Libel Defenses Consent An individual cannot sue for libel if he/she gave permission for the publication of the defamatory material
16 Libel Defenses Right of Reply An individual can libel the one who libeled him/her but it must be equal in magnitude and effectNot accepted by many courts
17 Damages Actual damages - damages for actual injury to reputation standing the communitymonetary losspersonal humiliationmental suffering and anguish
18 DamagesSpecial Damages – a specific monetary loss as the result of libelMost common in trade libel
19 DamagesPresumed damages – damages a plaintiff can receive without proof of injury or harmUsually occurs when the matter is of public, not private concern
20 DamagesPunitive Damages – damages that punish the defendant for misconduct and warn others not to act in a similar mannerBig Money, Big Prizes!Banned in several states
21 Retraction StatutesRetractions - a statement published to retract or correct previously published libelous material33 states have retraction statutesUnder a typical retraction statute, a publisher must be given an opportunity to retract a libelous comment before a suit can beginCan reduce, and sometimes even cancel damages awarded
22 Criminal LibelFounded on the theory that the state should sometimes act on behalf of the injured party of the libel and bring criminal chargesJustification for state action – to prevent the injured party from taking violent actionUsually related to politicsNot Common only 17 states, as of 2003