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What can Anytown argue to the court, or present as evidence at trial, to defend against Love’s claim for defamation?

Sam Superstar is working as a reporter at the Anytown Times newspaper when he runs into Lisa Brooks, an old high school friend. Lisa explains to Sam that she is working as an assistant for the very famous movie star Dewey Love. Lisa tells Sam that Dewey has unpaid child support and uses narcotic drugs without a prescription. Sam writes down all Lisa’s statements. Sam believes Lisa’s statements since she was known in high school as having a stellar reputation for honesty. However, Sam does some research and finds out that Lisa actually works for a man named Louis Dove, a retired teacher, not Dewey Love as she claimed.

Regardless, Sam writes an article stating that Dewey Love uses drugs and has unpaid child support. The headline reads, “Dewey Love Says Yes to Drugs and No to Child Support!” On November 1, Sam prints the article believing the statements he printed were false. On November 2, Dewey reads the article and makes the following statement to his business manager at the breakfast table, “I wonder how he knew about the drugs and child support? Oh well. You can’t keep those things a secret, I guess. It’s all true, you know.” On November 3, Dewey sues the Anytown Times for defamation. On November 4, Sam is suspended by the Anytown Times newspaper for his reporting on the Dewey Love incident. Sam goes home and connects to the Internet. He visits two social media sites and posts the following statement on both sites: “I hate my job and the Anytown Timesnewspaper. The Times is losing money on ads, so they are charging their customers more next year! My paper suspended me for reporting on the Love article, even though I did nothing really wrong. I just made up some facts on some movie star!” The next day, November 5, Sam begins to regret the statements he made on the Internet. He deletes the statements from the social media sites. On November 6, Sam is fired by the Anytown Times.

QUESTIONS FOR PART 1:

  1. What must Dewey Love prove to be successful in his defamation claim?
  2. What can Anytown argue to the court, or present as evidence at trial, to defend against Love’s claim for defamation?
  3. Sam sues the Anytown Times and requests the court require the newspaper to give him back his job as a reporter. What is the most likely legal reason the newspaper can use to substantiate Sam’s firing?

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