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Time, Inc. v. Hill

Law Dictionary
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Featuring Black's Law Dictionary 2nd Ed.
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Citation. Time, Inc. v. Hill, 385 U.S. 374, 87 S. Ct. 534, 17 L. Ed. 2d 456, 1967 U.S. LEXIS 2991, 1 Media L. Rep. 1791 (U.S. Jan. 9, 1967)

Brief Fact Summary. Defendants published an article and reenacted a play about Plaintiff and his family being held hostage. The article and play were false, but were portrayed by Defendant to be the truth. Plaintiff sued Defendant for false light.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. Defendants published an article and reenacted a play about Plaintiff and his family being held hostage. The article and play were false, but were portrayed by Defendant to be the truth. Plaintiff sued Defendant for false light.


Facts. Hill (Plaintiff), his wife, and five children were held hostage in their suburban Philadelphia home by three escaped convicts. Plaintiff and his family were released without any harm but the story made the front pages of the newspapers. Plaintiffs then moved to Connecticut. Time, Inc. (Defendant) published an article that told of a new Broadway thriller, The Desperate Hours. The article said Plaintiff and his family rose in heroism in the time of crisis. The article included pictures of scenes from the play that was to be reenacted in Plaintiff’s Philadelphia home. Plaintiff sued under Sections 50-51 of the New York Civil Rights Law; Defendant’s publication of the issues gave the impression that the play was true when in fact it did not accurately recount Plaintiff’s actual experience and Defendant knew the article was false and untrue. Defendant answered that the article was a subject of a legitimate news article. The trial judge denied Defendant’s motion to dismiss and the j
ury awarded Plaintiff $50,000 in actual damages and $25,000 in punitive damages. The New York Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Issue. Does a publication of a false report on a matter of public interest need only meet the New York Times test of actual malice to permit recovery in a lawsuit for false light?
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