Choose ONE of the scenarios listed below and then use the following check list to answer whether or not the scenario is libelous.

Simply explain in complete sentences how each of the scenarios below stand up to the test of libel using the 6 item check list.  See here for an example to number 6.  (You do not have to do number 6—the one about the twins)

The 6 item check list for libel. 

1.      Was the statement printed or published?

2.      Was the information false?

3.      Was the person or group able to be identified?

4.      Was the reporter or publisher at fault? (did not check sources, were careless about not checking facts).

5.      Was the person or group harmed?

6.      Or if there was no harm, was the statement (these would be automatic libel)

a.       injurious to another in their business, or profession

b.      accuse someone of having a disease or mental illness?

c.       Accuse someone of promiscuity?

d.      Accuse them of criminal activity

Libelous Situations

1.      Paul is the star quarter back for Mr. Walter’s flag football team.  Every high school in the area wants him to play for them next year.  His ex-girlfriend Dara is one of the editors of the yearbook.  While breaking up with her 6 months ago, Joel said many mean things to Dara in front of a crowd of students. She has not gotten over it.  On the night before the yearbook pages were due, Dara logged on at 11:55 pm and changed Paul’s name in the portrait section to read, “Paulita.”  No one knew about this because she did it after everyone in yearbook class had approved the pages.

When the yearbook came out a month later everyone saw how Paul’s name was spelled.  They all laughed at him and started calling him Paulita to his face and behind his back.  He didn’t care however, Paulita was his grandmother’s name and he had loved her so much that he thought about her every time he heard it.

Does Paul have a case against Dara or the school for Libel?

 

2.      Paul is the star quarter back for Mr. Walter’s flag football team.  Every high school in the area wants him to play for them next year.  His ex-girlfriend Dara is one of the editors of the yearbook.  While breaking up with her 6 months ago, Joel said many mean things to Dara in front of a crowd of students. She has not gotten over it.  Dara is the editor of the school newspaper.  She reported that she saw Paul walking out of a doctor’s office of a shoulder specialist.  She was even able to get a hold of a picture of Paul walking out of the office and in the picture there was a clear shot of the sign “Shoulder Specialist, Surgery While You Wait.” 

She wrote that he was visiting that doctor because Paul needs shoulder surgery and that he might need two years to recover.  In fact, Paul’s uncle is the shoulder specialist and shares an office with the doctor who gave Paul a physical for summer football practice and gave him a clean bill of health. 

All the coaches who wanted Paul to play for them saw the article and suddenly stopped calling him.  Now, instead of going to play football for a great team where he would definitely get a college scholarship and eventually turn pro, he’s going to have to settle for No Name High School that has the worst football team in the nation where no pro scouts ever watch the games.

Does Paul have a case against Dara or the school for Libel?

3.      David is a reporter for the school newspaper and was assigned to cover the HMS House Band’s performance at the 5K.  Unfortunately for the band, practice had not been going well before the show.  The Band had trouble getting through songs.  A rat chewed through a couple of cords making the sound go out.  Most people in the crowd hardly noticed as they all had a good time with everything going on at the 5K.  David wrote, “In my opinion, the House band needs a lot of work.  Not only are they not together on songs, but in some cases it sounded like everyone was playing a different song.  Their set was weak, playing mostly songs from the first Guitar Hero that everyone seemed bored of.  I suggest for their next gig, they get tighter and fill their set with songs people want to hear.”  After reading this article, Redondo Beach 5k Running Committee cancelled their contract to have the House Band come and play. 

Does the House Band have a case for Libel against David?

 

4.      Same facts as before, except David wrote:
 “This is not the same tight House Band that they once were.  Their sound was horrible.  They were obviously drunk or on drugs because no one can sound that bad without being intoxicated.  Plus, maybe they might sound better if their female singers weren’t making out with roadies back stage before they started their set.  Though he was the only one who did a great job, their drummer needs to go back to the mental hospital he came from.” 

(FACTS: no one was drunk, only one female singer dates a roadie and they’ve a couple for 3 years, and the drummer was a transfer student from PVMS).

After the article came out, the House Band had gigs lined up for months because everyone it seemed wanted such a crazy rock band to perform at their event. 

Does the House Band have a case for Libel against David?

5.      Diana writes:
“Yesterday was a tough day for some of HMS basketball players.  Five players were cut from the team and will not play in the season opener next week.  One of them, Jose Jackson said, “Mr. Walters and his assistance play favorites and doesn’t treat everyone fair.”   The yearbook class publishes her story the next day. 

Does Mr. Walters have a case for Libel against the yearbook class?  What defense can the yearbook class use?  Does Mr. Walters have a case against Jose Jackson?


STOP
DO NOT ANSWER QUESTION 6

6.      Dana is a brand new student in yearbook book.  She was assigned to put the names in the portrait section for the 6th grade.  She flip flopped the names for identical twins.  The twin’s mom is furious and wants to sue HMS for libel. 
DO NOT ANSWER THIS QUESTION
Does the twin’s mom have a case for libel against HMS Yearbook?