Case Review of Business Tort

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Case Review of

Business Tort

Krista Lee

Methodist University

In the appeal case of Smith v. Stewart, author Haywood Smith, Smith’s publisher, and secondary publishers contend that the court erred in denying a summary judgment for the claims of defamation, false light invasion of privacy, negligent infliction of emotional distress, intentional infliction of emotional distress and public disclosure of private facts. These charges were brought against Smith by longtime friend, Vicki Stewart when Stewart was convinced that Smith wrote a book The Red Hat Club about fictional characters, one of which was a character based on Vicki Stewart that was said to be promiscuous and an alcoholic. The first rule applied in this case was the rule of libel and slander, which states that the cause of defamation must include four elements: “1) a false and defamatory statement concerning the plaintiff; 2) an unprivileged communication to a third party; 3) fault by the defendant amounting at least to negligence; and 4) special harm of the actionability of the statement irrespective of special harm.” (822) Libel is the defamation of one’s character in written form, and slander is the defamation of one’s character is oral form. In order for this case to be viewed as libel and slander, the court needs to prove that the fictional character in the book was meant to be a portrayal of Vickie Stewart. They also need to prove that the character portrayal was a false portrayal of Vickie Stewart. If the entire portrayal is true then there would be no defamation. The court needs to decide if the information was given to an unprivileged third party and if Smith acted out of negligence. Lastly, the court needs to prove that the slander or libel caused harm to the plaintiff or made them act in such a way that would cause harm. A second rule applied in this case is the rule of torts which states that “in order to sustain a false light invasion of privacy claim, a plaintiff...
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