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A request for the entire case file will be dependent on the case file size. Note : Requests must still be submitted using the webform. Because the parties have provided thorough briefs, the Court finds it unnecessary to hold an oral argument. Based on the record presently before it, and for the reasons stated below, the Court concludes that defendants' motion for summary judgment should be GRANTED. Summary judgment is not properly viewed as a device that the trial court may, in its discretion, implement in lieu of a trial on the merits.
Instead, Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure mandates the entry of summary judgment against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of every element essential to that party's case on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. Celotex Corp. In such a situation, there can be no genuine issue as to any material fact, as a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial.
Fidelity Nat'l Bank, F. The movant is not required to negate his opponent's claim, however. While the court is to view all evidence and factual inferences in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party, Samples v. City of Atlanta, F. Liberty Lobby, Inc. A fact is material when it is identified as such by the controlling substantive law. An issue is genuine when the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmovant.
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The nonmovant "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts An issue is not genuine if it is unsupported by evidence, or if it is created by evidence that is "merely colorable" or is "not significantly probative. Thus, to survive a motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving party must come forward with specific evidence of every element material to that party's case so as to create a genuine issue for trial.
Georgia law defines libel as "a false and malicious defamation of another, expressed in print, writing, pictures, or signs, tending to injure the reputation of the person and expose him to public hatred, contempt, or ridicule. Truth is an absolute defense under Georgia law: if plaintiff cannot prove falsity, the libel and slander claim must fail. Thrasher, Ga. In addition, "[t]o be actionable, the libel must be "published" i. Miller, Ga. There is no dispute over the fact that the allegedly defamatory comments in this case, contained in defendants' book, were indeed published.
The parties do disagree as to whether the statements were libelous and, if so, whether defendants acted with malice. As a general rale, the question of whether a published statement is defamatory is a question for the jury. Mead v.
Checkbook Elegy – Front Porch
True Citizen, Inc. In considering whether a writing is defamatory as a matter of law, [the court should] look The passage at issue in the book emanated from a conversation, in August , between plaintiffs then girlfriend, Jacqueline Dilson, and Pam Paugh, sister of Mrs.
Specifically, Dilson contacted Paugh and told her that she believed plaintiff Wolf to be involved in the murder of JonBenet Ramsey. Based on that initial conversation, and subsequent information acquired by defendants, the following was said about plaintiff in the Book:. The Court will assume that the statements made in the Book do defame plaintiff Wolf. The statements indicate that defendants and others considered plaintiff to be a potential suspect in the brutal murder of a child and also suggest that there was some basis for the suspicion.
Perdue, Ga. If false, such statements could reasonably be held by a juror to constitute libel per se because the statements are "injurious on their facewithout the aid of extrinsic proof. Atlanta Claims Ass'n, Ga. A conclusion that the statements were libelous is not inconsistent with the recent holding by the Eleventh Circuit in another defamation action concerning the Ramsey case, also filed by plaintiffs counsel, Darnay Hoffman.
In that action, Hoffman-Pugh v. Ramsey, F. The Eleventh Circuit, however, affirmed the district court's decision that the defendants' book, when considered as a whole, does not defame Ms. Hoffman-Pugh as a matter of law.
The court concluded that the book, when fairly read, did not convey that Ms. Hoffman-Pugh was a suspect in the murder. Key to the Eleventh Circuit's analysis is the defendants' failure to ever state that Ms. Hoffman-Pugh, defendants' housekeeper, was considered to be a murder suspect by them or by the police. Instead, the Book states that, before they knew their daughter's fate, at a time when they believed her to have been kidnapped and were running through their minds people who knew JonBenet, the defendants never believed that Ms. In addition, the Eleventh Circuit notes that Ms.
Hoffman-Pugh does not fit defendants' profile of the culprit detailed later in the Book, which describes a male, age 25 to 35, who is either a former convict or has been around hardened criminals, and who had access to a stun gun. Finally, the court concluded that when, read in its entirety, the Book indicates that Ms. Hoffman-Pugh is not a suspect. Alternatively, the panel concluded that even if defamatory, the statements were "nonactionable statements of opinion. In the instant case, however, plaintiff does fit the profile of the murderer set out in the book and was discussed in detail as a viable suspect in the murder investigation.
Indeed, in recognition of these substantial differences between the Hoffman-Pugh case and the case pending before this Court, the Eleventh Circuit noted that the statements regarding plaintiff were "not the situation before us. In short, the "sting" or "gist" of the passages in the Book suggest that plaintiff is a viable suspect in the murder.
Such an accusation is defamatory. Of course, that a given statement is defamatory does not mean that the defamation is actionable. As noted supra and infra, truth is a defense to a libel action, as is the expression of an honestly held opinion. Certainly, many of the statements about plaintiff Wolf, recounted above, are true.
That is, Ms. Dilson did recount the described information about what she believed to be plaintiffs suspicious behavior. Likewise, plaintiff was questioned by the police concerning JonBenet's murder. Defendants argue that this is a non-actionable opinion. Plaintiff has argued, however, that this is not an honestly held opinion because Mrs. Ramsey actually killed her daughter and her husband knows this.
Accordingly, plaintiffs argues, the Ramseys could not believe that plaintiff, or anyone else is a viable suspect, because the Ramseys know that they are the perpetrators of the crime.