Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Judge Rules Out Defamation Lawsuit Against NBC

A Florida trial court judge has granted NBC's motion to dismiss in a defamation lawsuit George Zimmerman filed against the network nearly two years ago, holding that Mr. Zimmerman is a limited purpose public figure, and would have to demonstrate actual malice or reckless disregard in order to recover against the network in the suit. She found that the network's use of edited quotations from broadcasts of Mr. Zimmerman's 911 call accurately portrayed the "gist" of the call. Mr. Zimmerman had also argued that the network's presentation of his statement about Trayvon Martin as  a "racial epithet" was defamatory but the judge held that the reporter's statement could not be "verified as false" and Mr. Zimmerman bore the burden of proving falsity and actual malice.

Mr. Zimmerman had also alleged intentional inflicted of emotional distress. The judge ruled that because Mr. Zimmerman used the same set of facts for the IIED claim as for the defamation claim, and because he failed to make out the defamation claim, he could not proceed on the IIED claim.

Read the entire opinion here (courtesy of SCRIBD). The case is Zimmerman v. NBC Universal, CA-7A-1278 (18th Judicial Circuit, Seminole County Circuit Court, Nelson, J.).  More here from The Hollywood Reporter, here from the Orlando Sentinel.

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