SW Legal Educational Publishing

No Invite To Appear on Oprah for Former "Friend"
Description Plaintiff claimed to have been a friend of Oprah Winfrey. He wished to sell his story about her alleged regular cocaine use to the media. She called him a liar and no publications would buy his story. His suit for defamation and interference with prospective economic advantage dismissed.
Topic Torts
Key Words Interference with Prospective Economic Advantage, Defamation, Choice of Law
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Randolph Cook claimed that he had a relationship with Oprah Winfrey, during which she was a regular user of cocaine. Cook contacted various media outlets about selling them his story. Winfrey stated publicly and privately that Cook was a liar and that she did not use cocaine. Cook did not sell his story and sued Winfrey for tortious interference with prospective economic advantage, defamation, and other claims. Winfrey moved to dismiss Cook's suit.
Decisions Motion granted. Cook lives in Ohio, Winfrey in Illinois. Suit is in federal court, which, applying Illinois choice-of-law principles, will use Ohio law for the defamation claims and Illinois law for the other claims. Some claims were dismissed for being made after the statute of limitations had run. Winfrey cannot be sued for defamation for expressing an opinion that was published: "I will fight this suit until I am bankrupt before I give even a penny to this liar." To call someone a liar is an opinion, not a statement of fact, for which Winfrey has a privilege, so no suit. Cook's claim of interference with prospective economic advantage fails. "Unfulfilled hopes cannot be the basis for a claim of tortious interference ... and his failure to name any business expectancies with specific third parties is fatal to this claim."
Citation Cook v. Winfrey, ---F.Supp.--- (1997 WL 391957, N.D., Ill.)
or
975 F.Supp. 1045 (N.D., Ill., 1997)

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