Hustler Magazine Case Brief

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Hustler Magazine and Larry C. Flynt v. Jerry Falwell: 108 S. Ct. 876 Supreme Court of the United States

CAUSE OF ACTION: Recover damages for invasion of privacy, libel, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

FACTS: The inside front cover of the November 1983 issue of Hustler Magazine featured a "parody" of an advertisement for Campari Liqueur that contained the name and picture of respondent and was entitled "Jerry Falwell talks about his first time." This parody was modeled after actual Campari ads that included interviews with various celebrities about their "first times” time they sampled Campari however the ads clearly played on the sexual double entendre of the general subject of "first times."

Hustler chose Jerry Falwell as the featured celebrity and drafted an alleged "interview" with him in which he states that his "first time" was during a drunken incestuous rendezvous with his mother in an outhouse. The Hustler parody portrays respondent and his mother as drunk and immoral, and suggests that respondent is a hypocrite who preaches only when he is drunk. However, the bottom of the ad contained the disclaimer, “ad parody – not to be taken seriously” and the ad was listed in the magazine’s table of contents as “Fiction; Ad and Personality Parody.”

Jerry Falwell sued Hustler Magazine and Larry Flynt for invasion of privacy, libel and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The District Court threw out the invasion of privacy claim and sent the other two claims to a jury. The jury found Hustler Magazine not guilty on defamation of character claim and guilty on the intentional infliction of emotional distress. The jury awarded Jerry Falwell $ 100,000 in compensatory damages, as well as $ 50,000 each in punitive damages from petitioners.

ISSUE: Under the First Amendment is the petitioner (Jerry Falwell) able to recover damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress being a public figure? HOLDING: No. The First...
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