Grant v. Readers Digest Ass’n case brief
Facts: Complaint said that plaintiff was a Massachusetts lawyer and that defendant a NY corporation published a periodical of general circulation where one issue had the statement: “legislative agent… who but recently was a legislative rep for the communist party.” This innuendo was alleged to have charged the plaintiff with representing the communist party which was an untrue statement and malicious. So question is if it is libelous in NY to write of a lawyer that he has acted as agent of the communist party and is a believer. Lower court thought that it was not and dismissed the case.
Decision: Reversed for a new trial
Reasoning: A jury may usually rule whether a man’s reputation was damaged and how much the reputation is damaged and award it. However the limitation on recovery is if “right thinking” people would so think that the statements are defamatory. However the court said it does not matter if “wrong thinking” people think worse of communist sympathizer, it is enough if there are some people who do
Holding: It does not matter what type of thinking people are of when they think worse of someone, if defamatory statements are made and there are those who would believe it then it is actionable.