Monday, November 11, 2013

Firth v. State of New York case brief

Firth v. State of New York case brief summary
775 N.E.2d 463 (N.Y. 2002)

The Court of Claims, New York, granted summary judgment to respondent State and against appellant claimant in the latter's defamation action, which the Appellate Division affirmed. The claimant appealed as of right.


At issue was whether, for statute of limitations purposes, the single publication rule was applicable to allegedly defamatory statements posted on an internet site and, if so, whether an unrelated modification to a different portion of the website was a republication.


The claimant argued that the rule should not be applied to defamatory publications posted on the internet in light of significant differences between internet publications and traditional media. Instead, he claimed that, because a website could be altered at any time by its publisher or owner and because publications on the internet were available only to those who sought them, each viewing should be considered a new publication that re-triggered the statute of limitations.


  • The instant court disagreed. 
  • A multiple publication rule would implicate an even greater potential for endless re-triggering of the statute of limitations, multiplicity of suits, and harassment of defendants. 
  • As to claimant's second argument related to the modification, the instant court concluded that such was not a republication. 
  • The mere addition of unrelated information could not be equated with the repetition of defamatory matter.

The judgment was affirmed.

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