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Opinion About Value of Company Stock Not Grounds for Defamation
Description Magazine article questioned value of company stock and predicted it would drop. After stock price dropped, company sued magazine and writer for defamation. Court held that subjective statements about company are protected speech.
Topic Torts
Key Words Defamation
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Article in Forbes said that Biospherics' stock was overvalued. After publication, the value of the stock fell and the company sued. They objected to the language: "Hype and hope for a natural, noncaloric sugar substitute--called Sugaree--that the company's been 'developing' for 15 years." "Investors will sour on Biospherics when they realize that Sugaree isn't up to the company's claims." District court dismissed the complaint; Biospherics appealed.
Decision Affirmed. Statements that are clearly subjective views, rather than claims of objective facts, are not actionable. That the product had been under development for 9 years, not 15 years, was not actionable because the effect on the reader would not have changed had the correct time been stated. Other statements were opinion; the statements did not say that company executives had lied.
Citation Biospherics, Inc. v. Forbes, Inc., ---F.3d--- (1998 WL 466681, 4th Cir.)
151 F.3d 180 (4th Cir., 1998)

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