Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Illinois Court Rules That Plaintiff Must Disclose Name When Suing Newspaper For Defamation

An Illinois trial court has ruled that a defamation plaintiff may not sue anonymously unless he shows "good cause" to do so, as provided for under the statute. The plaintiff had alleged that the newspaper had defamed him by alleging that he failed to pay his taxes and contributed to the bankruptcy of a company.

The court finds that the alleged defamatory statement do not rise to the level of “exceptional”, involving a highly personal nature such as abortion, adoption, sexual orientation, or religion. Additionally, nothing has been presented to the court showing that disclosure of the Plaintiff's identify poses real danger or potential physical harm. If Plaintiff's allegations prove true, the greatest weigh of his damages for harm to reputation by Defendant's publishing have already accrued. The future risk that Plaintiff may suffer some harm to reputation or personal embarrassment is not enough to outweigh the public's interest in open judicial proceedings.
The case is Doe v. Chicago Sun-Times, 36 Med.L.Rptr. 2620 (2008).

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