Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

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Friday, September 8, 2006

South Carolina Appeals Court Upholds Lower Court Grant of Summary Judgment in Favor of Newspaper

The South Carolina Court of Appeals has affirmed a lower court's grant of summary judgment in favor of a newspaper in the case of a plaintiff who alleged defamation after a comment (later controverted) appeared in the paper. The court found that the plaintiff's "claim of actual malice in this case hinges on the reporter’s failure to investigate Mims’s story after receiving a document that apparently contradicted Mims’s statement.  Newspaper is a small weekly publication, and the evidence reveals the reporter received the list a few hours before the deadline for submitting final articles.  We agree with the circuit court that the evidence indicates the reporter failed to investigate due to time constraints and a number of other obligations, including numerous editorial and administrative tasks.  Although the reporter’s actions may have been negligent, we cannot say that they constituted an extreme departure from the standards of investigation normally employed by publishers so as to rise to the level of constitutional actual malice."

The case is Metts v. Mims, Opinion no. 4148, 2006 WL 23459889, S. C. App., 2006, Aug. 14, 2006; 2006 S.C. App. LEXIS 160.

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