Tuesday, January 29, 2008
In Hebrew Academy v. Goldman (Ct.App. 1/2 A106618, filed 12/24/07), the California Supreme Court holds that the single publication rule applies both to publications that are widely and are not widely distributed, extending its holding in Shively v. Bozanich, 31 Cal. 4th 1230 (2003).
We recognized in Shively that the single-publication rule also indirectly addresses the second concern that would be raised by applying to publications the general rule that a new cause of action for defamation arises upon each republication—that the statute of limitations would begin to run anew upon each republication—by observing that “[u]nder the single-publication rule, with respect to the statute of limitations, publication generally is said to occur on the ‘first general distribution of the publication to the public.’ [Citations.]”... The single-publication rule as described in our opinion in Shively and as codified in Civil Code section 3425.3 applies without limitation to all publications. Civil Code section 3425.3 applies to tort claims “founded upon any single publication or exhibition or utterance, such as any one issue of a newspaper or book or magazine . . . .” Thus, the single-publication rule applies in the present case, even though the transcript of the oral history at issue was published with only limited circulation."directly prevents a multiplicity of suits by declaring that there can be only one cause of action for defamation based upon a single publication, and indirectly limits the extension of the statute of limitations through the judicial interpretation that this single cause of action accrues upon the first general distribution of the work to the public.
With regard to the tolling of the statute, the Court held that "[P]ublication is generally said to occur on the `first general distribution of the publication to the public.'"
In this case, the defamatory statements were not "hidden" from the public, although there were not a large number of copies available.
The transcript at issue here was not published in an inherently secretive manner as was the letter in Manguso; although not widely distributed, the transcript was available to the public. Rabbi Lipner became aware of the transcript when a colleague discovered it while conducting research for a book about him....In the present case, as noted above, the parties agree that plaintiffs’ cause of action for defamation accrued under the single-publication rule no later than 1993, when the Goldman interview was published. And, as explained above, the discovery rule does not delay the accrual of the cause of action, even though the interview received only limited circulation.
Read the entire opinion here.