Clint’s Day Is Made; Enquiring Judges Uphold Verdict SW Legal Educational Publishing

Clint’s Day Is Made; Enquiring Judges Uphold Verdict
Description Judgment for Clint Eastwood against National Enquirer upheld. Tabloid injured Eastwood's reputation by creating impression that he granted it an interview. Since the editors had to know there was no interview, there was actual malice against a public figure. (Updated 10-3-97)
Topic Torts
Key Words Damage to Reputation; Lanham Act
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts An issue of the National Enquirer touted an "Exclusive Interview" with Clint Eastwood. The text implied that Enquirer reporters had interviewed Eastwood, which was not true. Eastwood sued, claiming the article misrepresented its origins, invaded his privacy, and misappropriated his name, likeness and personality. "The gist of the complaint is that Eastwood's reputation was damaged by the suggestion that he would grant an interview to a sensationalist tabloid. Enquiring judges want to know." The jury awarded Eastwood $150,000 plus, under the Lanham Act and California law, awarded him $653,163 in attorney's fees. Enquirer appealed.
Decision Affirmed. "Under the rule first announced in New York Times v. Sullivan, a public figure can recover damages from a news organization, for harms perpetrated by its reporting, only by proving ‘actual malice’.... Alternatively, he could prevail if the Enquirer had ‘obvious reasons to doubt the veracity’ of its reporting but engaged in ‘purposeful avoidance of the truth.’"

"[F]rom the totality of their choices ... the editors intended to convey the impression--known by them to be false--that Eastwood wilfully submitted to an interview by the Enquirer. This intentional conduct satisfied the ‘actual malice’ standard, permitting a verdict for Eastwood."

Citation Eastwood v. National Enquirer, ---F.3d--- (1997 WL 489027, 9th Cir.)
123 F.3d 1249 (9th Cir., 1997)

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