Monday, March 25, 2013

Cook v. Winfrey case brief

Cook v. Winfrey case brief
975 F. Supp. 1045 (N.D. Ill. 1997)

Plaintiff allegedly defamed individual (individual) filed a lawsuit against defendant celebrity alleging defamation per se, defamation per quod, tortious interference with prospective economic advantage, tortious interference with a contract, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The celebrity filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted.

OVERVIEW: The individual claimed to have had a relationship with the celebrity, during which they allegedly used cocaine on a regular basis. The individual sought to sell his story to several media organizations. The celebrity allegedly made statements that the individual was a liar who could not be trusted. The individual claimed that such statements interfered with his ability to sell his story. The individual did not file a response to the celebrity's motion to dismiss.

The court held that the statute of limitations, 735 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/13-201, barred the individual's defamation claims. Further, the celebrity's statements did not constitute defamation or slander because they were her privileged opinion.

-The individual's tortious interference claims failed to state claims upon which relief could be granted because the individual did not show that there was either a valid contract between himself and a media organization or that a valid contract was breached.
- Finally, the court found that the celebrity's alleged statements were not outrageous, therefore, the individual failed to state a claim for emotional distress.

The limitations period begins to run on the date of publication of the allegedly defamatory material. When publication occurs can be a matter of uncertainty; however, at its farthest reach, publication is deemed to have occurred at the time plaintiff knew or should have known of the existence of the allegedly defamatory statement.

OUTCOME: The court granted the celebrity's motion to dismiss the individual's complaint alleging defamation, tortious interference, and emotional distress claims.

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