Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Georgia Author Loses Defamation By Fiction Case

Novelist Haywood Smith lost a defamation by fiction case in a Georgia court last week. The plaintiff, Vickie Stewart, claimed that one of the characters in the book The Red Hat Society too closely resembled her, and the jury agreed, awarding her $100,000 in damages. However, she did not get attorneys' fees.

According to the Gainesville Times, the judge instructed the jury that under Georgia law, "In order to find libel, a jury must find that a publication contains false and defamatory statements concerning the plaintiff that were communicated to a third party, that the person making the statements was negligent by not exercising ordinary care in making them, and that the plaintiff was injured by the statements."

The author has said she will not appeal.

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