Monday, March 25, 2013

Milkovich v. Lorain Journal Co. case brief

Milkovich v. Lorain Journal Co. case brief
497 U.S. 1 (1990)

Petitioner coach challenged a decision of the Court of Appeals of Ohio, Lake County, which affirmed an order granting summary judgment to respondents, an author and a newspaper, in a suit for damages for defamation.

OVERVIEW: Petitioner coach sued respondents, an author and a newspaper, for defamation after respondents printed an article implying that petitioner had lied under oath. The trial court granted summary judgment for respondents and the appellate court affirmed, holding that the article was an opinion and was protected by U.S. Const. amend. I.

The United States Supreme Court reversed, holding that the U.S. Const. amend. I, did not prohibit the application of Ohio's libel laws to the alleged defamation.

-The Court said that there was no absolute privilege protecting opinion from the application of defamation laws.
-It said that the dispositive question was whether a reasonable fact finder could conclude that respondents' statements implied that petitioner had perjured himself.
-The Court said that the connotation that petitioner perjured himself was sufficiently factual to be susceptible of being proved true or false.
-It said that petitioner had to show that the connotations were false and made with some level of fault.

-The First Amendment to the United States Constitution places limits on the application of the state law of defamation.
-A public official cannot recover damages for a defamatory falsehood relating to his official conduct unless he proves that the statement was made with actual malice, that is, with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.

OUTCOME: The Court reversed the judgment.

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