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Monthly Archives: April 2013

RODEO NEVER KNOWS WHEN TO QUIT

Well you have a point, and I am not above admitting when I’m wrong,  yes I did have the word muffy on the photo, and you rodeo take an advantage and use it. Now for the rest of the info you seem to have posted, you haven’t explained.. And noting you laid it all off on poor little Muffy as to your justification for re-opening the ban on Maria..  with a few choice other descriptive issues, which I’m not going to touch on, thats going to be between you.. Maria and John and their Attorney.  So, dumb-ass is the phrase to use against you..  Dumb-ass when you don’t have the civil capability to stop and just leave people alone.. Apparently your hate for either Me or for Maria is driving you to the point of being totally uncontrolled.. Surprising?  NO!!  I have no doubt you live on the edge, or maybe its the abyss you need to worry about.

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Posted by on April 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

ONLY THE LONELY RODEO..

Only a creature like rodeo, would want to try to determine who has come to its banned.html page, amazing..  And how would you know that is Maria to begin with, all it does is give you the carrier of the ip and the location of their servers, dumbshit.. You assumed that was Maria’s IP address, but you don’t know for sure. I know what yours was from the email address at Comcast, oh yes thats right.. that radio got banned to where did you say Arizona?

And lastly, how did you know rodeo if Maria has a dog or not?  You don’t know Maria now do YOU? No one has mentioned that fact so guess what dumb-ass troll .. YOU MESSED UP!! So rodeo.. tell us how you know so much about Maria  since you are not suppose to know anything about her..   You certainly seem to know all about her life.. Wonder why?  Want to share with the class??  We are waiting you know!!  Because, only someone who knows about Maria and her Home life knows what is there and what isn’t.. And you mentioned her last name.. its not been mentioned by me !!

rodeo

Rodeo’s back to kissing her own ass.. nasty thing it must be..

Oh I know, rodeo has borrowed her old friends psychic hat again.  And its going to be another OH SHIT Moment at Rodeos.. and wait for the Delete…  That damn party time with the box wine gets you every-time doesn’t it?

tasmanian-devil

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

“My blogging buddy, John Gohde, wrote a nice article concerning Cobra. I think you will enjoy it and the film Cobra had recorded of himself in all his glory!”

Yea, old rodeo’s good Buddy.. John Gohde..

=============== The horse is laughing at you rodeo… cause your lying again.                                        

horse

RadioNewz Blog Forum Exposé

  1. Lisa Croslin – RadioNewz Blog Exposé
  2. Lisa Croslin – RadioNewz Blog Exposé – Backlash
  3. Persnickety Posting on RadioNewz Blog is Reminiscent of Wikipedia
  4. RadioNewz Blog – Simon Barrett’s Snitch Exposé
  5. RadioNewz Blog – What Happened with Lisa Croslin

RadioNewz Blog – Radio – As bad as any Croslin

Even though the Haleigh Case ended months ago, they absolutely refused to move on. They are basically just a bunch of Internet addicted man hating females who have joined a Ron Haters club who picture Misty Croslin as an innocent victim of the controlling Ronald Cummings. Radio having more than 65 threads on Haleigh speaks for itself. Each thread contains at least 21 pages of crazed posts. They are going over the same old crap, over and over again like a bunch of Internet crazed zombies. Believe it or NOT, but these fools just the other day were arguing over whether Ron had worked 8 or 12 hours that night. These Internet idiots have no life. They are hostile. They are NOT helping to find Haleigh in the least. They are frustrated, closed minded, vindictive, suspicious of all outsiders, mean, nasty, and paranoid. One of them has actually claimed that I gave her the finger, because I included a graphic of a shaking finger in one of my long forgotten posts which was clearly supposed to signify “NO”, or maybe “Naughty” in a good humored way. Sorry, but it was only one possible choice out of a 100 cute possibilities which had absolutely no significance whatsoever other than an interesting way to relieve boredom in messaging. These people really need to get a life, or maybe a hobby, even.

Because of the above RadioNewz Blog case study we can see that what happened with the Croslin and Cummings families can and is happening all over America. Beware of Radio’s tiny group of wack-jobs, America. Radio’s Crime Slueth zombies on the RadioNewz Blog Forum like to say good morning and tonight to each other every day, as if it was their job to report to each other. Those who don’t are consider rude. Well, I am putting to rest and saying goodnight to these crazies.

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Now, I’ve heard you accused me of gossiping and saying hateful things about my Friend Maria..  Well, hate to tell you rodeo.. clown that you are..

First of all I have nothing bad to say about Maria.. She is a sweet, kind considerate human being.  Together the Family runs a successful business, that must be envied by others.  Now.. Rodeo you actually think people would believe that I would gossip with trolls on the internet about Maria .. Virtually thats insanity on your part.  Since I managed to keep the friendship with Maria silent and totally under the radar from your snooping through my life and friends.  As far as the accusations you’ve made and comments you put in my mouth..  Sounds like people on your end are jealous of Maria .. She’s a beautiful articulate woman, and none of you can hold a candle to her.  Since I have not been in Maria’s house to observe what she wears or how she eats or what her weight is.   Your information must come from someone who has been in her house, has observed her or her weight or bottom line, just plain lying out their ass as well as you rodeo.  And to boot, our friendship does not include any passing of items or money.. We are friends, and taking advantage of each other is not within my concept of friendship.. Bottom line..  Maria has never offered anything to me, nor have I ever ask for anything, nor would I.  I don’t take advantage of friendship.  Nor do I need anything from Maria but friendship.   Oh, by the way.. Maria ask.. if your going to talk about her, why do you have her banned? What is it your trying to hide..  Think it will end up on an Attorney’s desk?  You bet ya!!!

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

FEEBLE ATTEMPTS JUST DON’T WORK..

So it seems like the rodeo has put a banned tag across the page revealing the comments and her posting of the child named Staubs..  Why you didn’t just remove it is a question..  So are you making attempts to cover this up, or have you got another game in mind..  Never ending games by rodeo..

Now the Steubenville online freaks are getting down to nasty business!

April 25, 2013 | by Shiloh | Blog

radio lesbian
Is someone named ?? mixed up in this?


33 Comments


  1. Yes I got attacked by @ Judicious1_ just for googling what Vestige Ltd. to misspell and mentioning something about Reno. OMG! I was shocked at the way this person treats people.

  2. Did you expect any less from a chick who’s son got IMMUNITY for being present during a crime?? *faints* Block the chick she’s vile and co-conspirator for “thinking” her son is perfect.

  3. How do you know its one of the moms

  4. Judicious1_ is the Mom of one of the boys who was there and failed to call her or anyone else to help the girl that was assaulted, go ask her, I am sure she’ll welcome you with warm fuzzies and shit too. :)

  5. guys…judicious1 is not the person you are referring to. we don’t know who this person is, but he/she is not the mother of one of the ones who recieved immunity. please keep that in mind when commenting. thanks.

    • Oh and you know this how? All we know is she is vile and hides who she is..do tell

      • looking 4 the Common Sense

        It doesn’t matter if she is the one who gave birth to one of those degenerates cowards or if she is the aunt of one of them or if she is one if Murtie Murt’s groupies. What does matter is that the person(s) behind the account are vile and delusional. Judging by the tone and content of the tweets I’d bet whoever it is has a strong desire to feel “important”. This quest to have their perceived truth told by any and all news outlets, hate bloggers, and faceless commentators seems to have made whoever is behind the account become so consumed with vengeance that the bullying tactics have become commonplace.
        As always the above comments are merely my opinion and not to be misconstrued as fact. I am not at the level of a Harvard or Yale law professor so my opinion is not to be considered as that of an expert but rather just a blue-collar working American. Opinions are like *A* holes, everyone has one…..

  6. Someone posted it was the sister of that person. Then I read both of them use that acct. Who knows!

  7. As representation for the above-mentioned individual, I am advising you that you are to hereby cease and desist the defamation of Rebecca Staubs’ character and reputation. First, Rebecca Staubs is a minor and not involved in this case whatsoever. If you continue to defame her character publicly, despite this attempt to correct the above incorrectly publicized information, you will be looking at a defamation claim. Cyber bullying a minor with this type of libelous action will not be tolerated. Thank you for your attention in this matter.
    As a purported “news” blog, you seem to be failing tremendously. A 5 minute online search would reveal that the above named individual has no involvement in this case, nor does she have any connection to this case whatsoever. Please do your readers a favor and do your due diligence before reporting.
    I can be reached at the private email address provided. Please provide written confirmation within ten (10) days that you will cease and desist the defamation of Rebecca Staubs’ character and reputation. Otherwise, she will be seeking monetary and equitable relief, along with the costs associated with attorney fees in pursuing this matter.

  8. I would prefer my gmail account, however I just provided you with my work email. If you feel more comfortable going through my company domain, feel free. Feel free to check my credentials when you arrive at the website.
    Further, I would like to reiterate the fact that I will be expecting the confirmation letter within 10 days. I also advise you to consult your own attorney.
    Thank you for your attention in this matter.

  9. no lawyer would do this via a blog for several reasons only a real lawyer would know

  10. Well if this guy works for a law firm he would know that since this Rebecca person posted her pic on the internet, there’s nothing he can do! She has opened herself up to the public by posting anything on the internet. Maybe she shouldn’t be posting on the internet if she doesn’t want anyone to post her picture or copy any of her posts.
    It doesn’t matter if she is underage. Maybe this guy as a parent should be watching what his child is doing on the internet. If he is so concern he needs to tell her to remove her picture and get off Facebook or set it so only friends can view it.

  11. To Christina STAUBS Horn, newly licensed attorney, permitted only to practice law in the State of Michigan, and who just graduated from law school last year: Your law firm will be getting notice tomorrow of your pretentious bullying of unwitting lay people with threats of bogus lawsuits which are not cognizable in fact or in law. There is no defamation or disparaging comment here about your LITTLE SISTER. Her twitter profile is public. There is no law in Michigan, where you reside, or in Georgia, where Radio allegedly resides, which prevents someone from reposting a minor’s profile picture on the internet. There is no civil or criminal prohibitions in federal law, either. I call upon you to provide what Federal, Michigan or Georgia law prohibits or criminalizes such conduct. And…I’ll give YOU ten days to provide that confirmation, okay?
    This was a single internet posting of a public profile picture — not a pattern of conduct to stalk or harass your little sister. There was no disparaging comment made about her, either. Not one. Accordingly, no alleged damages to her reputation could possibly have occurred, nor could be proven by you, dear. Let’s be honest here, big sissy Staubs, there has been no violation of ANY criminal or civil statute, by or through this website. Again, if I am wrong, please provide to what statute(s), if any, have been breached in your beautiful state of Michigan, then tell me how the State of Michigan would have jurisdiction over this matter of reposting your sister’s profile picture.
    Additional question for you, baby lawyer…Does the alleged victim or potential defendant reside in the State of Michigan? I don’t think you’re allowed to be threatening to take legal action in states wherein you have no right to practice law. But hey — what do I know.
    How about this, junior associate, why don’t you stop threatening these people with legal actions which don’t exist, nor would you be licensed to litigate. Neither your new law firm, nor the Michigan State Bar, would think to highly of you throwing your weight and newly attained bar license around the blogosphere and lodging bogus scare tactics at lay people for perfectly legal conduct. That bar license you just hung on your law firm wall is a privilege, not a right, and surely not a license for bullying law people into submission.
    As they say…Govern Yourself Accordingly. But hey…what do I know. (-:

  12. Hey William “Cobra” Staubs! Control your children, fgs!! LOL!

  13. Ummm, would that twithandle constitute a hate crime? Seems kinda derogatory to me…I mean do lesbians tag themselves as such on twitter? I seriously doubt it, but I dunno. I do think some gay rights groups might get a twist in their knickers over this.

  14. And here is our very serious lawyer, Christina Staubs Horn, on twitter:
    @ceshorn: “@HilariousTed: A ghost could be humping you right now and you would never even know.” @Rebecca_Staubs

  15. Uhm Christina Elicia Staubs Horn is an idiot as a “lawyer”. Does the law firm she works at know she is posting client cases online?
    http://easycaptures.com/fs/uploaded/616/0758537951.png
    I’m not so sure Loretta J Statsick would appreciate this blatent disregard for client lawyer confidentiality.

  16. courts.mi.gov/Courts/MichiganSupremeCourt/…/July2012PassersList.pdf

  17. graduated law school in 2012.

  18. looking 4 the Common Sense

    Oh my gosh, why does everyone think they can threaten a defamation lawsuit and be successful in “shutting others up”. This threatened lawsuit along with the many threatened lawsuits from the Steubenville yards are a joke and a waste of the court’s time. Any legitimate lawyer would laugh at these potential plaintiffs. People talk about each other. People gossip. Take it like an adult or act like a whine ass crybaby.

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Now.. like it or not.. it is available for everyone to see, and not hidden!!

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Rodeo and her finger pointing commentaries.

Notorious Mammabear and other spectacles
April 26, 2013 | by Radio | Smack | 5 Comments

I was gone less than 48 hours and all kinds of shit broke out! LOL!
Sam is being accused of being Mammabear, the notorious poster on Prinnified.com. I wasn’t a poster there, so I have no idea as to who is who and what is what.
I do know while Sam was ill she was hunted like an animal. That seems callous. Now, they are on her for being Mammabear. I don’t think they know if she is or not and I certainly don’t know. I’m certain Prinnie knows who Mammabear is and she’ll never tell I bet.
Besides that spectacle going on this blog was bullied by an attorney last night over one of Shiloh’s posts! LOL!
Since McGreggorsBack has put the attorney’s name and all the details on blast I’m not sure I need too. Looks like McGreggrorsBack has slammed her name and all the details right into Google! Brilliant. LMAO! I’ll get to it later I’m sure.

“Always something going on! :mrgreen:”

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Yea Rodeo, we’re really convinced you were gone and just didn’t know what was going on.. As usual, point a finger in someone elses direction..   well it is amazing that “this attorney that bullied” as You described in your article, knew who this young female attorney was?  How was this information obtained?  Through an email?  Through the ip address?  A normal poster would not have access to this information.   So Rodeo would you like to explain to the class how “this attorney that was bulling” as YOU described in your Article, obtained the information to identify this young female attorney?  The class wants to know..  you claim you were gone, so who had access to this email and ip information to give to this poster.  Do your posters have psychic hats or what?

With this person’s post, your anonymous poster was able to obtain all the minor details… seems to me your released story is a cover up Rodeo.. As usual, but this time it just isn’t going to work….  You see, there is a major difference between last names.. Staubs and Horn..

As representation for the above-mentioned individual, I am advising you that you are to hereby cease and desist the defamation of Rebecca Staubs’ character and reputation. First, Rebecca Staubs is a minor and not involved in this case whatsoever. If you continue to defame her character publicly, despite this attempt to correct the above incorrectly publicized information, you will be looking at a defamation claim. Cyber bullying a minor with this type of libelous action will not be tolerated. Thank you for your attention in this matter.
As a purported “news” blog, you seem to be failing tremendously. A 5 minute online search would reveal that the above named individual has no involvement in this case, nor does she have any connection to this case whatsoever. Please do your readers a favor and do your due diligence before reporting.
I can be reached at the private email address provided. Please provide written confirmation within ten (10) days that you will cease and desist the defamation of Rebecca Staubs’ character and reputation. Otherwise, she will be seeking monetary and equitable relief, along with the costs associated with attorney fees in pursuing this matter.

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

A RESIDENT OF NORTH CAROLINA..

I am a resident of the State of North Carolina. I am shielded and protected by the laws of the State of North Carolina.

Now, here is a little tid bit for those who are unfamiliar with the laws in North Carolina.. Read it well!!  This is a little addition from the Statues of the State of North Carolina.. anyone has problems with it.. take it up with the State of North Carolina..

“Publishing the Statements and Content of Others

If you have web forums, allow reader comments, host guest bloggers on your site, or if you repost information that you receive from RSS feeds, you generally will be shielded from liability for defamatory statements made by your users and guests under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (“Section 230”). This important federal law protects you from certain types of liability, including defamation, associated with the statements and other user-submitted content you publish on your site.

Section 230 grants interactive online services of all types, including blogs, forums, and listservs, broad immunity from liability so long as the information at issue is provided by a third-party. You will not lose this immunity even if you edit the content, whether for accuracy or civility, and you will be entitled to immunity so long as your edits do not substantially alter the meaning of the original statements. However, if you alter someone else’s statement so that it becomes defamatory (e.g., changing the statement “Bob is not a murderer” to “Bob is a murderer”), you would be responsible for the content of the edited statement; and if it turns out to be untrue, you could be liable for defamation. In addition, if you add your own commentary along with the user-submitted content, you will only be shielded from liability for the material created by your user, not for your own statements. For more on this important protection, see the section on Immunity for Online Publishers Under the Communications Decency Act.

Note that Section 230 does not shield you from liability for copyright infringement claims and other intellectual property claims. If you publish or use the creative work of others, their trademarks, or certain confidential business information without the permission of the owner, you may be exposing yourself to legal liability for violations of intellectual property law.   Fortunately, if you allow your site’s user to post this type of content you can protect yourself from copyright infringement claims under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), so long as you establish effective “notice-and-takedown” procedures, promptly remove content when a copyright owner notifies you that it is infringing, and have no knowledge that the material in question is infringing.  We cover liability associated with copyright, trademark, and trade secrets in the Intellectual Property section of this legal guide.  For guidance on the procedures you should follow under the DMCA, see the section on Protecting Yourself Against Copyright Claims Based on User Content.”

Now what was that little comment made on rbn aka rodeos troll studio?  About threats made against others by a comment by anonymous..  About making threats against others?  Gee, thats odd cause I do believe I was told on an email threat, that this issue wasn’t true.. hmm

I guess those so knowledgeable about the law who send emails and those who post  as anonymous on rbn aka rodeo troll studio need to get together and figure this out…..

Is it ethical to threaten other posters online.. or is it illegal ?  Someone needs to post an answer to this question.

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Lets look at the Law !!

Freedom of speech, of the press, of association, of assembly and petition — this set of guarantees, protected by the First Amendment, comprises what we refer to as freedom of expression. The Supreme Court has written that this freedom is “the matrix, the indispensable condition of nearly every other form of freedom.” Without it, other fundamental rights, like the right to vote, would wither and die.

FREEDOM OF SPEECH,  PROVIDED BY THE FIRST AMENDMENT, appears to only be provided by those who are associated with radionewz.net.

Now remember, these are the same  people were all up in arms for protecting Prinne – and promoting her FREEDOM OF SPEECH,  during her law suit  defending her right to make open statements and accusations of criminal activity against certain people, and actually identifying people by their real names and where they live.

For several years I have been accused of being a drunk, a drug addict, a cougar, crazy, insane and the biggest lie told was that I had been in a mental institution – each statement is without doubt libel and defamation of character.  They advised their trolls that my family had discussed issues with them.

1. These people have never had a conversation with any of my family members.  In fact my family members know exactly what has been occurring.

2. The removal of information from this site was encouraged by legal council, also advising me to remain silent for a short period of time – Not to test the waters but use the time for other measures to be taken.

3. The removal of information from this site also enraged a number of people.  Those who felt I should stand my ground !!

Another issue is the Law.. on Defamation in varying States.

North Carolina Defamation Law

Note: This page covers information specific to North Carolina. For general information concerning defamation, see the Defamation Law section of this guide.

Elements of Defamation

The elements of a defamation claim in North Carolina are essentially similar to the elements discussed in the general Defamation Law section, with the following exceptions and clarifications:

Defamation Per Se

North Carolina has a broad definition of libel per se. This term refers to statements so egregious that they will always be considered defamatory and are assumed to harm the plaintiff‘s reputation, without further need to prove that harm. In North Carolina, a statement that does any of the following things amounts to libel per se:

  • charges that a person has committed an infamous crime;
  • charges a person with having an infectious disease;
  • tends to impeach a person in that person’s trade or profession; or
  • otherwise tends to subject one to ridicule, contempt, or disgrace.

This last category of libel per se is quite broad and is not recognized by most other states.

Actual Malice and Negligence

In North Carolina, a private figure plaintiff bringing a defamation lawsuit must prove that the defendant was at least negligent with respect to the truth or falsity of the allegedly defamatory statements. Public officials, all-purpose public figures, and limited-purpose public figures must prove that the defendant acted with actual malice, i.e., knowing that the statements were false or recklessly disregarding their falsity. See the general page on actual malice and negligence for details on the standards and terminology mentioned in this subsection.

Privileges and Defenses

North Carolina courts recognize a number of privileges and defenses in the context of defamation actions, including substantial truth, the opinion and fair comment privileges, and the fair report privilege. The status of the wire service defense and the the neutral reportage privilege is unsettled.

There also is an important provision under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that may protect you if a third party – not you or your employee or someone acting under your direction – posts something on your blog or website that is defamatory. We cover this protection in more detail in the section on Publishing the Statements and Content of Others.

Most of the privileges and defenses to defamation can be defeated if the plaintiff proves that the defendant acted with actual malice. This does not apply to immunity under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. It is not clear whether actual malice defeats the fair report privilege in North Carolina.

Fair Report Privilege

In North Carolina, the fair report privilege protects accurate reports of government proceedings and public records.  Among other things, the privilege applies to court proceedings and information contained in court documents. It also extends to reports of arrests and the charges upon which the arrests were based. See LaComb v. Jacksonville Daily News, 543 S.E.2d 219, 221 (N.C. Ct. App. 2001).  To take advantage of the privilege, your report must be a “substantially accurate acount.” It is not clear whether a plaintiff can defeat the fair report privilege by proving that the defendant acted with actual malice.

Neutral Reportage Privilege

The CMLP located no North Carolina cases addressing the neutral reportage privilege. If you know of any cases, please contact us.

Wire Service Defense

One North Carolina appeals court has recognized the wire service defense, but did not elaborate on its scope. See McKinney v. Avery Journal, Inc., 393 S.E.2d 295 (N.C. Ct. App. 1990).

Statute of Limitations for Defamation

The statue of limitations for defamation in North Carolina is one (1) year. See N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1-54.

The CMLP has identified no North Carolina cases addressing whether the state follows the single publication rule, either online or off. For a definition of the “single publication rule,” see the Statute of Limitations for Defamation section. If you are aware of any North Carolina cases that acknowledge the single publication rule in the Internet context, please notify us.

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Florida Defamation Law

Note: This page covers information specific to Florida. For general information concerning defamation, see the Defamation Law section of this guide.

Elements of Defamation

Under Florida law, the elements of a defamation claim are:

  1. the defendant published a false statement;
  2. about the plaintiff;
  3. to a third party; and
  4. the falsity of the statement caused injury to the plaintiff.

Border Collie Rescue v. Ryan, 418 F.Supp.2d 1330, 1348 (M.D.Fla. 2006).  A plaintiff must also prove that the defendant’s fault in publishing the statement amounted to at least negligence.  The elements of a defamation claim in Florida are similar to the elements discussed in the general Defamation Law section, with the following exceptions:

Defamation Per Se

In Mid-Florida Television Co. v. Boyles, 467 So.2d 282 (Fla. 1985), the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the state no longer recognizes presumed damages for defamation per se in lawsuits against media defendants. (Defamation “per se” refers to a legal doctrine which holds that some statements of fact are so egregious that a court will presume that they harmed the plaintiff’s reputation.) The CMLP is not aware of any Florida cases deciding whether a blogger or non-traditional journalist is a “media defendant” for purposes of applying this rule. In cases involving matters of purely private concern, a Florida court could still presume damages based on defamation per se. In Florida, a statement amounts to defamation per se if it accuses the plaintiff of committing a crime or imputes to the plaintiff conduct, characteristics, or a condition incompatible with the proper exercise of his or her lawful business, trade, profession, or office.

Public and Private Figures

Florida has a broad conception of public officials, a category of government actors who must prove actual malice in order to prevail on a defamation claim. The Florida Supreme Court found a police officer to be a public official where he was a “highly visible representative of government authority who has power over citizens and broad discretion in the exercise of that power.” Smith v. Russell, 456 So.2d 462 (Fla. 1984). Florida courts have found that a corrections officer, an administrator of large public hospital, and even a harbormaster were public officials.

Criminal Libel

Unlike most states, Florida still recognizes criminal libel. Chapter 836 of the Florida Statutes does not define the elements of criminal libel, but it does specifically prohibit false statements that harm a bank or other financial institution’s reputation or accuse a female of being unchaste. To the extent that the statute remains valid, criminal libel is a first-degree misdemeanor. However, a Florida appeals court found Fla. Stat. § 836.11 — which deals with anonymous defamation of individuals or religious groups — to be unconstitutional. State v. Shank, 795 So.2d 1067 (Fla.Ct.App., 4th Dist. 2001).

Actual Malice and Negligence

In Florida, a private figure plaintiff bringing a defamation lawsuit generally must prove that the defendant was at least negligent with respect to the truth or falsity of the allegedly defamatory statements. Public officials, all-purpose public figures, and limited-purpose public figures must prove that the defendant acted with actual malice, i.e., knowing that the statements were false or recklessly disregarding their falsity. See the general page on actual malice and negligence for details on these standards.

Privileges and Defenses

Florida courts recognize a number of privileges and defenses in the context of defamation actions, including substantial truth, the opinion and fair comment privileges, the fair report privilege, and the wire service defense. The Florida Supreme Court has not explicitly recognized the neutral reportage privilege, but lower court cases have recognized it.

There also is an important provision under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that may protect you if a third party – not you or your employee or someone acting under your direction – posts something on your blog or website that is defamatory. We cover this protection in more detail in the section on Publishing the Statements and Content of Others.

Neutral Reportage Privilege

The Florida Supreme Court has not formally recognized the neutral reportage privilege, but there are indications that Florida would recognize it. Two lower court cases have endorsed the privilege. See Smith v. Taylor County Pub. Co., 443 So. 2d 1042, 1044 (Fla. 1st DCA 1983); Huszar v. Gross, 468 So. 2d 512, 515 (Fla. 1st DCA 1985). Both cases recognized the privilege even in instances where the plaintiff is a private figure. The Court of Appeals for Florida’s Third District spoke favorably of these cases. See Brake & Alignment Supply Corp. v. Post-Newsweek Stations of Florida, Inc, 472 So. 2d 517, 518 (Fla. 3rd DCA 1985).

Statute of Limitations for Defamation

Florida’s statute of limitations for defamation is two (2) years. See Fla. Stat. § 95.11(4)(g).

Florida applies the single publication rule. See Fla. Stat. § 770.07. For a definition of the “single publication rule,” see the Statute of Limitations for Defamation section.

The CMLP could not locate any cases in Florida that apply the single publication rule in the context of a statement published on the Internet. If you are aware of any Florida cases that

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The 2012 Florida Statutes

Title XLVI
CRIMES
Chapter 836
DEFAMATION; LIBEL; THREATENING LETTERS AND SIMILAR OFFENSES
View Entire Chapter

836.11 Publications which tend to expose persons to hatred, contempt, or ridicule prohibited.—

(1)  It shall be unlawful to print, publish, distribute or cause to be printed, published or distributed by any means, or in any manner whatsoever, any publication, handbill, dodger, circular, booklet, pamphlet, leaflet, card, sticker, periodical, literature, paper or other printed material which tends to expose any individual or any religious group to hatred, contempt, ridicule or obloquy unless the following is clearly printed or written thereon:

(a) The true name and post office address of the person, firm, partnership, corporation or organization causing the same to be printed, published or distributed; and,
(b) If such name is that of a firm, corporation or organization, the name and post office address of the individual acting in its behalf in causing such printing, publication or distribution.
(2)  Any person, firm or corporation violating any of the sections of this statute shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
History.—ss. 1, 2, ch. 22744, 1945; s. 996, ch. 71-136.

Libel and Slander (Defamation)

The law of defamation in Georgia shields an individual’s reputation against communications that are untrue and derogatory. Under the law of defamation, a person may be held liable for libel or slander. A person commits the tort of libel when he falsely and maliciously defames another through a permanent form of communication such as a writing, picture, print, or sign. This defamation must tend to injure the offended person and expose him to public contempt to constitute libel. Similarly, slander consists of a false and malicious oral statement, such as stating that someone committed a crime, has a contagious disorder, or operates their business poorly. Slander may also be committed simply by uttering disparaging words about another.

The plaintiff and his attorney shoulder the burden of proving a defamation claim in Georgia. Success depends on an attorney’s ability to prove three or four elements. First, an actual false and malicious statement made against the plaintiff must be proven. Second, the plaintiff must prove that this statement was conveyed to a third party. Third, it must be proven that the defendant was at least negligent in conveying the statement. In some cases, a fourth element proving that harm was done must be satisfied. A plaintiff is usually not obligated to prove this fourth requirement when the alleged statement falsely accuses another person with a crime, asserts that another person has a contagious disorder, or is calculated to harm the person’s trade, office, or profession.

In defending a defamation suit, Georgia provides for several defenses that a defendant may use. For instance, a person is almost always justified in making a true statement. Furthermore, in situations where minor inaccuracies have been made in good faith, the court is likely to ignore those falsities so long as the overall impact or substance of the statement is not false. This is known as a “substantial truth.”

Georgia’s defamation laws also protect opinions in many cases. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution grants us a great degree of freedom to criticize others without fear of legal retribution. Opinions of others that are based on a personal belief and that cannot be proven false are generally protected from defamation suits. However, statements that imply or explicitly state defamatory facts that can be proven false are unlikely to be protected. For example, falsely and maliciously stating that someone was convicted of a crime will most likely not constitute a protected opinion, because that fact can be proven false.

Additionally, Georgia considers some statements to be privileged so as to remove them from the realm of liability; however, these privileges do not protect statements made with a malicious intent. Privileged statements include statements made to protect the interest of the speaker, comments concerning the acts of public officials, and statements made in the performance of a public, legal, or moral duty. Georgia law also protects comments made by attorneys about the circumstances of a case or on the conduct of the parties involved.

Professionals in the business world are also granted some leeway under Georgia law. A single statement that another is guilty of a mistake, impropriety, or an unprofessional act is usually not enough to hold one liable. However, if the statement accuses another of general ignorance or lack of skill, the person making the statement will more likely be held liable.

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Arizona Defamation Law

Note: This page covers information specific to Arizona. For general information concerning defamation, see the Defamation Law section of this guide.

Arizona Elements of Defamation

In Arizona, the elements of a defamation claim are:

  1. a false statement concerning the plaintiff;
  2. the statement was defamatory;
  3. the statement was published to a third party;
  4. the requisite fault on the part of the defendant; and
  5. the plaintiff was damaged as a result of the statement.

Morris v. Warner, 160 Ariz. 55, 62 (Ariz. Ct. App. 1988).

To be “defamatory,” a statement must be false and bring the defamed person into disrepute, contempt, or ridicule, or impeach her honesty, integrity, virtue, or reputation. Godbehere v. Phoenix Newspapers, Inc., 162 Ariz. 335, 341 (Ariz. 1989).

These elements of a defamation claim in Arizona are similar to the elements discussed in the general Defamation Law section, with the following exceptions:

Defamation Per Se

Arizona distinguishes between statements that constitute libel per se and libel per quod. Libel per se are written communications which “on their face and without the aid of any extrinsic matter” tend to “bring any person into disrepute, contempt or ridicule” or “impeach the honesty, integrity, virtue or reputation.” Ilitzky v. Goodman, 57 Ariz. 216, 220‑21 (Ariz. 1941). In contrast, libel per quod consists of written communications which “on their face do not fall within the definition [of defamation] but which by reason of special extraneous circumstances actually do.” Id. at 221.

Arizona also distinguishes between statements that constitute slander per se and slander per quod. In Arizona, a statement that does any of the following is slander per se:

  • Charges a contagious or venereal disease, or that woman is not chaste; or
  • Tends to injure a person in his profession, trade, or business; or
  • Imputes the commission of a crime involving moral turpitude.

Modla v. Parker, 495 P.2d 494, 4 n.1 (Ariz. Ct. App. 1972). Slander per quod are “all slanderous utterances which are not slanderous per se.” Boswell v. Phoenix Newspapers, Inc., 152 Ariz. 1, 6 n.4 (Ariz. Ct. App. 1985) approved as supplemented by Boswell v. Phoenix Newspapers, Inc., 152 Ariz. 9 (Ariz. 1986).

The distinction between libel per se and per quod and slander per se and per quod matters because it effects the type of damages a plaintiff must allege to prevail. To recover for libel or slander per quod, a plaintiff must allege special damages, i.e., lost profits or other “pecuniary loss.” Boswell, 152 Ariz. 1, 6 n.4. In contrast, to recover for libel or slander per se, a plaintiff does not have to allege special damages and may instead allege non-pecuniary damages, such as damage to his reputation. Moreover, in cases of libel or slander per se, damages may be presumed if:

  1. The plaintiff is a private figure and the alleged defamatory statement involves a matter of purely private concern; Dombey v. Phoenix Newspapers, Inc., 150 Ariz. 476, 481 (Ariz. 1986) or
  2. Actual malice is proven. Id.

Public Officials

Arizona courts have considered whether certain lower-level government employees qualify as public officials. They have held that the following individuals, among others, are public officials:

Public Figures and Limited-Purpose Public Figures

In Arizona, to classify a person as a public figure, the person must have achieved “‘such pervasive fame or notoriety that he becomes a public figure for all purposes and in all contexts.” Dombey, 150 Ariz. at 480 (quoting Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc., 418 U.S. 323, 351 (1974).

The Arizona Supreme Court has recognized that an individual may become a limited-purpose public figure for a certain event or controversy when he “‘voluntarily injects himself or is drawn into a particular public controversy. . . .’” Id. (quoting Gertz, 418 U.S. at 351).

In determining whether a person is a limited-purpose public figure, Arizona courts will consider whether the person has “‘thrust[] himself or his views into public controversy to influence others’” and whether the person’s “‘position with respect to matters of public concern gives him access to the media on a regular and continuing basis.’” Id. at 483 (quoting Hutchinson v. Proxmire, 443 U.S. 111, 135 (1979).

The Arizona Supreme Court has held that a person “‘is not automatically transformed into a public figure just by becoming involved in or associated with a matter that attracts public attention.’” Id. (quoting Wolston v. Reader’s Digest Ass’n, Inc., 443 U.S. 157, 167 (1979). Rather, the person must voluntarily assume a position that invites attention. Id. at 485 (quoting McDowell v. Paiewonsky, 769 F.2d 942, 950 (3rd Cir. 1985). In that regard, the Court has stated that “doing business with the government, being swept up in a controversy over an issue of public interest or concern, being named in articles creating a public controversy, and defending oneself against charges leveled in the media are all insufficient to automatically transform a private individual into a public figure.” Id. at 484.

Arizona courts and the 9th Circuit have held the following individuals, among others, to be limited-purpose public figures:

  • A “publicly self‑acknowledged former hoodlum and organized crime enforcer” who testified against a mob boss in exchange for immunity from prosecution. Scottsdale Publ’g, Inc. v. Superior Court, 159 Ariz. 72, 73, 74 (Ariz. Ct. App. 1988).
  • A World War II veteran who had authorized a biography and solicited press coverage of that work. Thomas v. Los Angeles Times Commc’ns. LLC, 45 Fed. Appx. 801, 803 (9th Cir. 2002).
  • The insurance agent of record for an Arizona county, where the insurance agent made recommendations resulting in substantial expenditures from the public and financially benefited from his position, although he was not actually employed by the county. Dombey, 150 Ariz. at 484‑85.
  • An individual, in suing his former employer for defamation, who had contacted the media regarding his claims of wrongful termination and sent his complaint to approximately twenty companies in related business fields. Prendeville v. Singer, 155 Fed. Appx. 303, 305-06 (9th Cir. 2005).

On the other hand, Arizona courts have found the following individuals and organizations, among others, to be private figures:

Actual Malice and Negligence

Arizona courts apply a negligence standard to defamation claims brought by private figures seeking compensatory damages. Peagler v. Phoenix Newspapers, Inc., 114 Ariz. 309, 315 (Ariz. 1977).

Public officials, all-purpose public figures, and limited-purpose public figures must prove that the defendant acted with actual malice, i.e., knowing that the statements were false or recklessly disregarding their falsity. See the general page on actual malice and negligence for details on the standards and terminology mentioned in this subsection.

Privileges and Defenses

Arizona courts recognize a number of privileges and defenses in the context of defamation actions, including substantial truth, the opinion and fair comment privileges, and the fair report privilege.

There also is an important provision under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that may protect you if a third party – not you or your employee or someone acting under your direction – posts something on your blog or website that is defamatory. We cover this protection in more detail in the section on Publishing the Statements and Content of Others.

Fair Comment Privilege

In Arizona, the fair comment privilege “is limited to discussions of matters which are of legitimate concern to the community as a whole because they materially affect the interests of all the community.” Phoenix Newspapers, Inc. v. Church, 103 Ariz. 582, 595 (Ariz. 1968).  If actual malice is shown, however, the privilege is defeated. Id.

The fair comment privilege protects both media and non-media defendants when the plaintiff is a public official.  The Arizona Supreme Court ruled that regardless of the defendant’s media status, “when the plaintiff is a public official and the speech is of public concern, [then] the plaintiff bears the burden of showing that a statement is provably false before an action for defamation can lie.” Turner v. Devlin, 174 Ariz. 201, 205 (1993).

The Arizona Supreme Court in the past has also explicitly recognized pure opinion as protected speech. MacConnell v. Mitten, 131 Ariz. 22, 25 (1981) (finding a statement “was pure opinion and not actionable“).  It is unclear whether this recognition survived Turner and Milkovich v. Lorain Journal Co., 497 U.S. 1 (1993), however.

Fair Report Privilege

In Arizona, the precise scope of the fair report privilege, also known as the public records privilege, is not clear because there is only one case in which the Arizona courts have applied the privilege.

In Sallomi v. Phoenix Newspapers, Inc., 160 Ariz. 144, 147 (Ariz. Ct. App. 1989), the Court of Appeals of Arizona held that the “public records privilege” applied to articles which were “a fair and accurate abridgment of the public records used.” In that case, the Arizona Republic published articles about the apprehension of a hitman at a local restaurant, which it described as a “hangout for narcotics dealers and users” owned by a man being investigated for fraud and attempted extortion. Id. at 145. The owners of the restaurant filed suit for defamation. The information in the articles was obtained from interviews with police officers, affidavits submitted to support searches of various locations, a grand jury indictment, and a booking slip on file at the Phoenix Police Department. Id. at 145‑46. The Court reviewed the articles, the search warrant affidavits, grand jury indictment, and booking slip and concluded that although the newspaper may have relied on interviews with police officers, which are not a public record, because the information obtained was available in the affidavits, indictment, and booking slip, the privilege applied. Id. at 146‑47.

Neutral Reportage Privilege

The CMLP has not identified any cases in Arizona concerning the neutral reportage privilege. If you are aware of any, please contact us. The 9th Circuit has mentioned the adoption of the neutral reportage privilege in other jurisdictions but does not appear to have specifically adopted it itself. See Flowers v. Carville, 310 F.3d 1118, 1128 (9th Cir. 2002).

Wire Service Defense

A federal district court in Arizona has applied the wire service defense in at least one case. In In re Med. Lab. Mgmt. Consultants v. Am. Broad. Cos., Inc., 931 F. Supp. 1487, 1492 (D. Ariz. 1996), the court held that the defense applied to an ABC-affiliate in Phoenix that broadcast an edition of “Prime Time Live” but played no part in the planning, reporting, production, or editing of the broadcast.

Retraction or Correction

By statute in Arizona, the type of damages a plaintiff may recover from a newspaper, magazine, or radio or television broadcaster can be limited by the publication of a retraction. A.R.S. § 12‑653.02 provides:

In an action for damages for the publication of a libel in a newspaper or magazine, or of a slander by radio or television broadcast, the plaintiff shall recover no more than special damages [i.e. damages with respect to the plaintiff’s property, business, trade, profession or occupation] unless a correction is demanded and not published or broadcast, unless the plaintiff shall prove the publication or broadcast was made with actual malice. The plaintiff shall serve upon the publisher at the place of publication, or broadcaster at the place of broadcast, a written notice specifying the statements claimed to be libelous and demanding that the same be corrected. The notice and demand shall be served within twenty days after actual knowledge of the plaintiff of the publication or broadcast of the statements claimed to be libelous.

If a correction is demanded within the time period prescribed by A.R.S. § 12‑653.02 and a correction is not published or broadcast within three weeks, the plaintiff may recover damages for loss of reputation and punitive damages if she can prove actual malice. A.R.S. § 12‑653.03.

The applicability of the retraction statute in all cases in questionable because the Arizona Supreme Court has held that the retraction statute violates art. 18, § 6 of the Arizona constitution to the extent that it eliminates “general damages for both loss of reputation and emotional harm, preventing those damaged by defamation from recovering general damages for actual injury.” Boswell v. Phoenix Newspapers, Inc., 152 Ariz. 9, 19 (Ariz. 1986).

The retraction statute also does not apply not apply “to any publication or broadcast made within thirty days preceding any election, if such publication or broadcast is designed to in any way influence the results of such election.” A.R.S. § 12‑653.05.

At least one federal court in Arizona has stated that the retraction statute applies only to “libel actions based on newspaper or magazine articles” and does not apply to comments made on an online forum. Dealer Comp. Servs. v. Fullers’ White Mt. Motors, Inc., No. CV07-00748-PCT-JAT, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 83311 at *19 (D. Ariz. Oct. 16, 2008).

Other Statutory Protections for Periodicals and Broadcasters

A.R.S. § 12‑653 provides:

An action for damages shall not lie against the editor, publisher, or proprietor of a newspaper or periodical for publication of a report, proceedings or other matter published at the instance of a public officer acting in compliance with law.

A.R.S. § 12‑652 provides:

  1. The owner, licensee or operator of a visual or sound radio broadcasting station or network of stations, and the agents or employees of the owner, licensee or operator, shall not be liable for damages for a defamatory statement published or uttered in or as a part of a visual or sound radio broadcast by one other than the owner, licensee or operator, or agent or employee thereof, unless it is alleged and proved by the complaining party that the owner, licensee, operator or agent or employee has failed to exercise due care to prevent publication or utterance of the statement in the broadcast. The exercise of due care shall be construed to include a bona fide compliance with federal law or regulations of a federal regulatory agency.
  2. An owner, licensee or operator, or the agents or employees of such owner, licensee or operator of a station or network of stations shall not be liable for damages for defamatory statements published or uttered over the facilities of such station or network by or on behalf of a candidate for public office.
  3. In an action for damages for a defamatory statement published or uttered in or as a part of a visual or sound radio broadcast, the complaining party shall be allowed only the actual damages alleged and proved.

CMLP has not identified any Arizona cases in which these statutes have been applied. If you are aware of any, please contact us.

Statute of Limitations for Defamation

The statute of limitations for defamation is one (1) year. See A.R.S. § 12‑541. The Court of Appeals of Arizona has stated that the general rule is that the statute of limitations begins to run upon publication; however, the Court has also created an exception to the general rule and held that the statute of limitations may instead begin to run upon discovery “in those situations in which the defamation is published in a manner in which it is peculiarly likely to be concealed from the plaintiff, such as in a confidential memorandum or a credit report.” Clark v. Airesearch Mfg. Co. of Ariz., Inc., 138 Ariz. 240, 242 (Ariz. Ct. App. 1983).

By statute, the single publication rule applies in Arizona. See A.R.S. § 12-651. The statute provides, in pertinent part:

  1. No person shall have more than one cause of action for damages for libel, slander, invasion of privacy or any other tort founded upon a single publication, exhibition or utterance, such as any one edition of a newspaper, book or magazine, any one presentation to an audience, any one broadcast over radio or television or any one exhibition of a motion picture. Recovery in any action shall include all damages for any such tort suffered by the plaintiff in all jurisdictions.
  2. A judgment in any jurisdiction for or against the plaintiff upon the substantive merits of any action for damages founded upon a single publication, exhibition or utterance as described in subsection A shall bar any other action for damages by the same plaintiff against the same defendant founded upon the same publication, exhibition or utterance.

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Missouri Defamation Law

Note: This page covers information specific to Missouri. For general information concerning defamation, see the Defamation section of this guide. 

Elements of Defamation

The elements of defamation in Missouri are:

1. publication
2. of a defamatory statement
3. that identifies the plaintiff
4. that is false
5. that is published with the requisite degree of fault, and
6. damages the plaintiff’s reputation

Overcast v. Billings Mut. Ins. Co., 11 S.W.3d 62, 70 (Mo. 2000) (en banc).

The publication requirement is simply the communication of defamatory matter to a third person. An exception to the publication requirement exists for slander actions in Missouri where a person who utters defamatory matters intends, or has reason to suppose, that in the ordinary course of events the matter will come to knowledge of some third person. Mauzy v. Mex. Sch. Dist., 878 F. Supp. 153, 157 (E.D. Mo. 1995), citing Neighbors v. Kirksville College, 694 S.W.2d 822, 824 (Mo. Ct. App. 1985). One who republishes defamatory facts is liable for that publication. Mortiz v. Kan. City Star Co., 258 S.W.2d 583 (Mo. 1953). There also is an important provision under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that may protect you if a third party – not you or your employee or someone acting under your direction – posts something on your blog or website that is defamatory. We cover this protection in more detail in the section on Publishing the Statements and Content of Others.

These elements of a defamation claim in Missouri are similar to the elements listed in the general Defamation section, with the following exceptions:

Defamation Per Se/Per Quod

The Missouri Supreme Court case of Nazeri v. Missouri Valley College, 860 S.W.2d 303 (Mo. 1993) (en banc) eliminates the defamation per se/per quod distinction. In that case, the court abandoned the classifications of defamation per se and per quod, holding that “plaintiffs need not concern themselves with whether the defamation was per se or per quod, nor with whether special damages exist, but must prove actual damages in all cases.” Id. at 313.

Defamatory Meaning

By statute, it is actionable to publish falsely and maliciously, in any manner whatsoever, that any person has been guilty of fornication or adultery. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 537.110 (2011).

In 1993, a false allegation of homosexuality was held to be defamatory. Nazeri at 312. It is not clear whether this would still be actionable now.

In order to find that a publication is defamatory, it must “be unequivocally so” and the words “should be construed in their most innocent sense.” Walker v. Kan. City Star Co., 406 S.W. 44, 51 (Mo. 1966). In Ampleman v. Schweppe, 972 S.W.2d 329 (Mo. Ct. App. 1998), the court stated that “if a statement is capable of two meanings (one defamatory and one nondefamatory), and can reasonably be construed in an innocent sense, the court must hold the statement nonactionable as a matter of law.” Id. at 333.

Of and Concerning the Plaintiff

Even if the plaintiff is readily identifiable in a particular publication, the plaintiff cannot sue for defamation unless the libelous portion of the publication is directed at him. May v. Greater Kansas City Dental, 863 S.W.2d 941, 945 (Mo. Ct. App. 1993).

Actual Malice

In order to recover for defamation, a public official/figure is required to show that the defendant acted with actual malice. Actual malice requires a showing that the libelous statements were published with actual knowledge of falsity or in reckless disregard as to whether the statement as true or not. The Missouri Supreme Court has equated recklessness with disregard of the truth with subjective awareness of probable falsity. There must be sufficient evidence to permit the conclusion that the defendant in fact entertained serious doubts as to the truth of his publication. Glover v. Herald Co. 549 S.W.2d 858, 862 (Mo. 1977) (en banc).

Application of the actual malice standard in defamation cases in Missouri is not limited to statements regarding public officials’ performance of official acts. A public figure’s private conduct is, in some cases, a matter of public concern. Westhouse v. Biondo, 990 S.W.2d 68 (Mo. Ct. App. 1999).

Missouri cases have applied constitutional fault principles to statements made by non-media defendants, as well as those made by media defendants. Ramacciotti v. Zinn, 550 S.W.2d 217, 224 (Mo. Ct. App. 1987); McQuoid v. Springfield Newspapers, Inc., 502 F. Supp 1050, 1054 n.3 (W.D. Mo. 1980).

See the general page on actual malice and negligence for details on the standards and terminology mentioned in this subsection.

Private Figure Standard

In Missouri, a private figure must show libelous statements were published by a defendant “at fault.” The Missouri Supreme Court has interpreted the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc., as stating that the requisite degree of fault in a private figure defamation case is negligence. Overcast v. Billings Mut. Ins. Co., 11 S.W. 3d 62, 70 (Mo. 2000) (en banc).

Damages 

In a ruling rejecting the distinction between defamation per se and per quod (see above), the Missouri Supreme Court seems to have abandoned the doctrine of presumed damages. Nazeri v. Misssouri Valley College, 860 S.W.2d 303, 313 (Mo. 1993) (en banc). “By allowing presumed damages for certain words but precluding actual damages for other words without the additional proof of special damages, we believe this rule of the past creates unjustifiable inequities for plaintiffs and defendants alike. We hold that in defamation cases the old rules of per se and per quod do not apply and plaintiff need only to plead and prove the unified defamation elements set out in MAI [i.e., the “Missouri Approved Instructions,” the standard jury instructions used in Missouri courts] 23.01(1) and 23.01(2).” Nazeri at 313. See also Kenney v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 100 S.W.3d 809, 814 (Mo. 2003); Bauer v. Ribaudo, 975 S.W.2d 180, 182-83 (Mo. Ct. App. 1997).

Recent Missouri legislation says that punitive damages in any tort case may not exceed $500,000 or five times the net amount of any judgement awarded to the plaintiff against the defendant, whichever is greater. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 510.265 (2011).

The Missouri Supreme Court has held that a defamation plaintiff must prove impairment to reputation in order to recover any damages for defamation and that emotional distress alone will not suffice. Kenney v. Walmart Stores, Inc., 100 S.W.3d 809, 814 (Mo. 2003).

Other Issues

Missouri has no criminal libel statute.

Privileges and Defenses

Missouri courts recognize a number of privileges and defenses in the context of defamation cases, including substantial truth, the wire service defense, the fair reportage privilege, and opinion and fair comment privileges.

Missouri has not adopted the neutral reportage doctrine officially, although some cases show some recognition of a more limited privilege. Englezos v. Newspress & Gazette Co. 981 S.W.2d 25, 32 (Mo. Ct. App. 1998). The Eighth Circuit has suggested adherence to the neutral reportage doctrine. Price v. Viking Penguin Inc., 881 F.2d 1426, 1434, 1444 (8th Cir. 1989).

Substantial Truth

At common law, truth was considered a complete defense to libel (i.e., the defendant would have the burden to prove truth). Mortiz v. Kan. City Star Co., 258 S.W.2d 583 (Mo. 1953); Bartulica v. Pasculdo, 411 F. Supp 392, 397 (W.D. Mo. 1976).

Now falsity must be proven by the plaintiff, at least in cases where the defendant is a member of the media. Philadelphia Newspapers, Inc. v. Hepps, 475 U.S. 767 (1986). “Under the controlling constiutional standards, public officials, public figures and private persons using media defendants [for libel] must establish that the defendant published a false statement of fact.” Anton v. St. Louis Suburban Newspapers, Inc., 598 S.W.2d 493, 498 (Mo. Ct. App. 1980).

Slight inaccuracies of expression are immaterial if the defamatory charge is true in substance. Brown v. Biggs, 569 S.W.2d 760, 762 (Mo. Ct. App. 1978).

Wire Service Defense

Missouri recognizes that a newspaper has the right to reply upon and to republish information obtained from “reputable and properly-regarded-as reliable news services” where (1) the matters republished are of public significance and occur many miles away and (2) the reporter did not act with actual malice. Walker v. Pulitzer Publ’g Co., 271 F.Supp. 364 (E.D. Mo. 1967), aff’d, 394 F.2d 800 (8th Cir. 1968).

Fair Reportage Privilege

Missouri has adopted this privilege in the exact language provided in the Restatement of Torts (Second) § 611:

The publication of defamatory matter concerning another in a report or an official action or proceeding or of a meeting open to the public that deals with a matter of public concern is privileged if the report is accurate and complete or a fair abridgement of the occurrence reported.

“Actual malice” is irrelevant under the Section 611 privilege. The privilege fails only when the report is not a fair and accurate account of the proceedings. Williams v. Pulitzer Broad. Co., 706 S.W.2d 508, 511 (Mo. Ct. App. 1986).

Opinion

The Missouri Supreme Court, considering the U.S. Supreme Court’s holding in Milkovich v. Lorain Journal Co., 497 U.S. 1 (1990),rejected a blanket defense for protected opinion and established instead the following test:

“The test to be applied to ostensible ‘opinion’ is whether a reasonable factfinder could conclude that the statement implies an assertion of objective fact. …The issue of falsity relates to the defamatory facts implied by a statement — in other words, whether the underlying statement about the plaintiff is demonstrably false… But neither ‘imaginative expression’ nor ‘rhetorical hyperbole’ is actionable as defamation.”

Nazeri at 314 (citations omitted). Nevertheless, a Missouri appellate court has since held that generally any statement preceded by a phrase such as “it is my position” or “it is my belief” or other cautionary phrases are, as a matter of law, opinion. Pape v. Reither, 918 S.W.2d 376, 380 (Mo. Ct. App. 1996). “Put plainly, it is impossible to interpret statements preceded by such cautionary lanugage as positing a verifiable proposition, and verifiability is the crux of the fact/opinion distinction in defamation law.”  Pape at 380-81. The Pape court also held that “[a] statement must be verifiable at the time it is issued in order to be one of fact.” Id. at 381.

In State ex. rel. Diehl v. Kintz, 162 S.W.3d 152 (Mo. Ct. App. 2005), the Missouri Court of Appeals, while recognizing that the U.S. Supreme Court “has rejected the notion that there is a wholesale defamation exception for anything that might be labeled opinion” as a matter of federal constitutional law, held that “a statement may only suggest to the ordinary reader that the defendant disagrees with the plaintiff’s conduct and used pejorative statements or vituperative language to express this disapproval. … ‘Courts should also examine the statements themselves to determine whether they are too imprecise.'” Id. at 155, quoting Henry v. Halliburton, 690 S.W.2d 775, 789 (Mo. 1985) (en banc).

See the general page on fair comment and opinion for details on the standards and terminology mentioned in this subsection.

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Defamation

American tort liability for defamatory speech or publications traces its origins to English common law. For the first two hundred years of American jurisprudence, the basic substance of defamation law continued to resemble that existing in England at the time of the Revolution. An 1898 American legal textbook on defamation provides definitions of libel and slander nearly identical to those given by Blackstone and Coke. An action of slander required:[141]

  1. Actionable words, such as those imputing the injured party: is guilty of some offense, suffers from a contagious disease or psychological disorder, is unfit for public office because of moral failings or an inability to discharge his or her duties, or lacks integrity in profession, trade or business;
  2. That the charge must be false;
  3. That the charge must be articulated to a third person, verbally or in writing;
  4. That the words are not subject to legal protection, such as those uttered in Congress; and
  5. That the charge must be motivated by malice.

An action of libel required the same five general points as slander, except that it specifically involved the publication of defamatory statements.[142] For certain criminal charges of libel, such as seditious libel, the truth or falsity of the statements was immaterial, as such laws were intended to maintain public support of the government and the truth of the statements merely eroded public support more thoroughly.[143] Instead, libel placed specific emphasis on the result of the publication. Libelous publications tended to “degrade and injure another person” or “bring him into contempt, hatred or ridicule.”[142]

Concerns that defamation under common law might be incompatible with the new republican form of government caused early American courts to struggle between William Blackstone‘s argument that the punishment of “dangerous or offensive writings…[was] necessary for the preservation of peace and good order, of government and religion, the only solid foundations of civil liberty” and the argument that the need for a free press guaranteed by the Constitution outweighed the fear of what might be written.[143] Consequently, very few changes were made in the first two centuries after the ratification of the First Amendment.

The Supreme Court’s ruling in New York Times Co. v. Sullivan[144] fundamentally changed American defamation law. The case redefined the type of “malice” needed to sustain a libel case. Common law malice consisted “ill-will” or “wickedness”. Now, a public officials seeking to sustain a civil action against a tortfeasor needed to prove by “clear and convincing evidence” actual malice. The case involved an advertisement published in The New York Times indicating that officials in Montgomery, Alabama had acted violently in suppressing the protests of African-Americans during the civil rights movement. The Montgomery Police Commissioner, L. B. Sullivan, sued the Times for libel claiming the advertisement damaged his reputation. The Supreme Court unanimously overruled the $500,000 judgment against the Times. Justice Brennan suggested that public officials may sue for libel only if the publisher published the statements in question with “actual malice” — “knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.”[145]

While actual malice standard applies to public officials and public figures,[146] in Philadelphia Newspapers v. Hepps,[147] the Court found that, with regard to private individuals, the First Amendment does “not necessarily force any change in at least some features of the common-law landscape.”[148] In Dun & Bradstreet, Inc. v. Greenmoss Builders, Inc.[149] the Court held that “[i]n light of the reduced constitutional value of speech involving no matters of public concern…the state interest adequately supports awards of presumed and punitive damages – even absent a showing of ‘actual malice.'”[150] Despite varying from state to state, private individuals generally need prove only the negligence of the defendant.

In Greenbelt Cooperative Publishing Association, Inc. v. Bresler[151] the Supreme Court ruled that a Greenbelt News Review article, which quoted a visitor to a city council meeting who characterized Bresler’s aggressive stance in negotiating with the city as “blackmail”, was not libelous since nobody could believe anyone was claiming that Bresler had committed the crime of blackmail and that the statement was essentially hyperbole (i.e., clearly an opinion).

The Supreme Court ruled in Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc.[152] opinions could not be considered defamatory. It is, therefore, permissible to suggest, for instance, that someone is a bad lawyer, but not permissible to declare falsely that the lawyer is ignorant of the law: the former constitutes a statement of values, but the latter is a statement alleging a fact.

More recently, in Milkovich v. Lorain Journal Co.,[153] the Supreme Court backed off from the protection from “opinion” announced in Gertz. The court in Milkovich specifically held that there is no wholesale exception to defamation law for statements labeled “opinion,” but instead that a statement must be provably false (falsifiable) before it can be the subject of a libel suit.

Hustler Magazine v. Falwell[154] extended the “actual malice” standard to intentional infliction of emotional distress in a ruling which protected a parody.

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Posted by on April 26, 2013 in Uncategorized