Thursday, November 14, 2013

Price v. Time case brief

Price v. Time case brief summary
416 F.3d 1327 (2005)

CASE SYNOPSIS: Plaintiff coach sued defendants, a writer and a magazine, in Alabama state court for libel, slander, and outrageous conduct. Defendants removed the lawsuit to federal court based on diversity jurisdiction. The United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama granted the coach's motion to compel defendants to answer the coach's interrogatories seeking the identity of confidential sources. Defendants appealed.

CASE FACTS: The magazine published an article alleging that the coach, the head coach of the University of Alabama's Crimson Tide football team, made sexual advances towards female students in a bar and apartment in Tuscaloosa and engaged in sexual acts with two women from a strip club in Pensacola. In a statement to the writer, made days before the article was published, the coach denied the allegations. The coach submitted interrogatories to defendants requesting disclosure of the writer's confidential sources. Prior to oral argument before the appellate court, the coach's counsel informed the court that he had uncovered the source for the reporting about the Tuscaloosa incident; thus, that issue was moot.

  • As to the Pensacola incident, the appellate court concluded that the Alabama shield statute, Ala. Code § 12-21-142, did not apply to the magazine because Sports Illustrated was not a newspaper for purposes of the statute. 
  • However, the appellate court concluded that the motion to compel under the First Amendment was premature because the coach had not proven that he was unable to find a reasonable alternative means to learn the name of the confidential source for the Pensacola incident.
CONCLUSION: The trial court's order compelling defendants to disclose the confidential sources for the Tuscaloosa incident part of the magazine article, was vacated as moot. The order compelling defendants to disclose the confidential source for the Pensacola incident part of the article, was vacated and the case was remanded for further proceedings.

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