Brief Fact Summary. Mrs. Cantrell and her children (Plaintiffs) brought suit against Forest City Publishing Co. (Defendant), when its publication, The Plain Dealer, published a feature story stressing Plaintiffs’ poverty.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. The First Amendment does not preclude a plaintiff from recovering against a media defendant who uses falsehoods in reporting on a matter of public concern.
The constitutional protections for speech and press preclude the application of the New York statute to redress false reports of matters of public interest in the absence of proof that the defendant published the report with knowledge of its falsity or in reckless disregard of the truth.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Whether the court of appeals acted appropriately when it set aside a jury verdict on an invasion of privacy claim, when the Defendant was a media publisher?
* The Supreme Court held that the paper did publish falsehoods, and as such, was liable for the actions of its reporters, for damages sustained by the Plaintiffs.
Discussion. While reporters can claim First Amendment privilege when they report on issues of public concern, they may not hide behind this privilege when their stories knowingly represent Plaintiffs in a false light.