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Torts Keyed to Epstein
Curtis Publishing Co. v. Butts
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The case in the casebook deals with two separate cases with different facts: * In Curtis Publishing Co. v. Butts, Defendant No. 1, the Saturday Evening Post (Defendant No. 1) printed an article accusing Plaintiff No. 1, Butts (Plaintiff No. 1), the coach of the University of Georgia football team, of conspiring to fix a 1962 Georgia-Alabama game by giving Paul Bryant, the Alabama coach, crucial information about Georgia’s offensive strategy. Plaintiff No. 1 sued Defendant No. 1 for libel and a jury awarded him $60,000 in general damaged and $30,000 in punitive damages. After New York Times was decided, Defendant No. 1 requested a new trial. The motion for a new trial was denied because Plaintiff No. 1 was not a public official and there was ample evidence from which a jury could have concluded that the article was published with reckless disregard for truth. * Associated Press v. Walker arose out of the distribution of a news dispatch giving an eyewitness account of events on the campus of the University of Mississippi, when a massive riot erupted because of federal efforts to enforce a court decree ordering the enrollment of an African-American, James Meredith, as a student in the University. The dispatch stated that Plaintiff No. 2, Walker (Plaintiff No. 2), who was present on the campus, had taken command of the violent crowd and had personally led a charge against federal marshals sent there to effectuate the court’s decree and to assist in preserving order. Plaintiff No. 2, a private citizen with a honorable military career, sued for libel claiming that he had counseled restraint to the students, had exercised no control over the crowd, and had not taken part in any charge against federal marshals. Some evidence showed that Defendant No. 2, the Associated Press (Defendant No. 2), was negligent in assigning an inexperienced reporter t o cover the story. The court awarded Plaintiff No. 2 compensatory damages, but refused to award punitive damages because the record at most included evidence of negligence, but not malice. * Both Plaintiff No. 1 and Plaintiff No. 2 were public figures, but not public officials. Four separate Supreme Court of the United States (Supreme Court) opinions, much condensed here, addressed the question of how the standards of New York Times applied.
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