CASE NOTE: TORTS -- DEFAMATION -- PRIVATE CITIZENS NEED ONLY SHOW NEGLIGENCE IN DEFAMATION ACTIONS AGAINST MEDIA DEFENDANTS. DOES THIS STIFLE THE MEDIA AT THE PUBLIC'S EXPENSE? -- MIAMI HERALD PUBLISHING CO. V. ANE, 458 So. 2d 239 (Fla. 1984) Skip over navigation
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Copyright 1985 Florida State University Law Review.

Florida State University Law Review

CASE NOTE: TORTS -- DEFAMATION -- PRIVATE CITIZENS NEED ONLY SHOW NEGLIGENCE IN DEFAMATION ACTIONS AGAINST MEDIA DEFENDANTS. DOES THIS STIFLE THE MEDIA AT THE PUBLIC'S EXPENSE? -- MIAMI HERALD PUBLISHING CO. V. ANE, 458 So. 2d 239 (Fla. 1984)

SPRING, 1985

13 Fla. St. U.L. Rev. 159

Author

M. David Shapiro

Excerpt

I. Introduction

In Miami Herald Publishing Co. v. Ane, 2 the Florida Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Third District Court of Appeal 3 and held that "it is sufficient that a private plaintiff prove negligence" to establish a defamation claim against a media defendant. 4 The court further determined that an actual injury to reputation is not a prerequisite to the recovery of compensatory damages. 5 The supreme court's decision in Ane comes ten years after the United States Supreme Court, in Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc., 6 issued a qualified invitation to the states to fashion their own standard of liability with respect to defamation actions brought by private citizens. By adopting a negligence standard, the Florida Supreme Court receded from a policy providing a qualified news reporters' privilege for the protection of the dissemination of news to the public. The court's new, broader standard of liability imposed upon publishers, coupled with a more expansive treatment of damages, may lead to media self-censorship.

This Note analyzes the decisions of the Third District Court of Appeal and the Florida Supreme Court to illustrate the difficulties which the new standard of negligence creates for media defendants. The Note also examines the conflicting arguments supporting the divergent standards of actual malice 7 and negligence. Finally, the Note proposes legislation that would attempt to reconcile the competing interests between first amendment guarantees and the rights of private citizens to protect their reputational interests.

II. A Matter Left ...
 
 
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