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Headline Suggesting "Kato" Kaelin Was Murder Suspect Could Be Defamation
Description Appeals court reinstated case by O.J. Simpson case witness Kaelin against tabloid that published headline indicating that Kaelin was murder suspect. Reasonable jury could find false statement was made with reckless disregard for the truth.
Topic Torts
Key Words Defamation, Malice
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts "Kato" Kaelin got 15 minutes (or more) of fame for his testimony in the O.J. Simpson trial. After Simpson was acquitted of murder, the front page of the National Examiner stated "Cops Think Kato Did It!" and the article claimed that Kaelin "is still a suspect in the murder...." In fact, the cops did not think Kaelin committed murder, and he was not a suspect. Kaelin demanded a retraction, but the publisher refused. Kaelin then sued for libel. Accepting the argument that Kaelin could not prove that the Globe acted with actual malice, trial court granted Globe summary judgment. Kaelin appealed.
Decision Reversed. "We hold that reasonable jurors could find that clear and convincing evidence established: (1) the front page headline falsely insinuated that the police believed that Kaelin committed the murders; and (2) the false insinuation was not necessarily cured by ... subheading or by the non-defamatory story about Kaelin that appeared 17 pages away. We also hold that Kaelin produced sufficiently clear and convincing evidence of the newspaper's knowledge of falsity or reckless disregard for the truth of its headline to defeat a motion for summary judgment."
Citation Kaelin v. Globe Communications Corp., 162 F.3d 1036 (9th Cir., 1998)

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