Brief Fact Summary.
Defendant published a false statement about Plaintiff. Plaintiff brought suit for libel. The trial court dismissed the claim for insufficiency o flaw on its face. Plaintiff appealed.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
To maintain a claim for libel, it is sufficient that a plaintiff’s reputation was harmed in the eyes of some; not all or even most people.
Reader’s Digest (Defendant) published an article falsely stating that attorney Sidney Grant (Plaintiff) was a legislative representative for the Massachusetts Communist Party.
Whether it is necessary for a plaintiff’s reputation to be harmed in the eyes of all or most people in order to maintain a claim in libel.
No. The trial court’s ruling is reversed and the case is remanded. To maintain a claim for libel, it is sufficient that a plaintiff’s reputation be harmed in the eyes of some; it is not necessary that the plaintiff’s reputation be harmed in the eyes of all or even most.
Any difference is one of degree only: those who would take it ill of a lawyer that he was a member of the Party, might no doubt take it less so if he were only what is called a fellow-traveler; but, since the basis for the reproach ordinarily lies in some supposed threat to our institutions, those who fear that threat are not likely to believe that it is limited to party members.View Full Point of Law
The people who would think that plaintiff’s reputation is harmed do not have to be â€œright-thinking peopleâ€. It is sufficient if plaintiff’s reputation is harmed in the eyes of some, even â€œwrong-thinkingâ€ (not of the highest moral ground) people. The case was improperly dismissed because the Plaintiff stated a claim where a jury could find in his favor.