Monday, November 11, 2013

Haynes v. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. case brief

Haynes v. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. case brief summary
8 F.3d 1222 (7th Cir. 1993)

Plaintiff former husband challenged the decision of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, which granted summary judgment to defendants, an author and a publisher, after the former husband sought damages for alleged defamation and invasion of privacy that arose from the publication of facts about him in a highly praised, best-selling book of social and political history.


The author, who was a journalist, authored a book which was entitled "The Promised Land: The Great Black Migration and How It Changed America," which was printed by the publisher. This book discusses the life of one black woman who had married and then later divorced the former husband. The book had statements from the woman that her former husband had left his children alone at night when he was supposed to be watching them, lost a job or jobs because of drinking, and also spent money on a car that he should have used to buy shoes for his children. The former husband filed suit for both defamation as well as invasion of privacy.


  • The court granted summary judgment to the defendants, which the court affirmed. 
  • The court also held that the statements were not defamatory because these statements did not show the former husband in a worse light than a bare recitation of the uncontested facts about his behavior in relation to the woman and her children would have done and because the alleged falsehoods were merely illustrations of undoubted truths about the former husband's character at the time.
The court affirmed the decision of the district court, that had granted summary judgment to the defendants on the former husband's claims for defamation as well as invasion of privacy.

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