From our private database of 33,800+ case briefs...
Barr v. Matteo
United States Supreme Court
360 U.S. 564 (1959)
John J. Madigan and Linda Matteo, government employees (plaintiffs) brought a libel suit against William G. Barr, the acting director of the agency where the employees worked (defendant). The suit was filed in a federal district court. The employees alleged that Barr defamed them in a press release that Barr issued explaining Barr’s reasons for suspending the employees regarding an agency plan that involved firing and rehiring agency employees on a temporary basis and paying the employees in cash for accumulated annual leave. The plan was not alleged to be illegal, but it was criticized by several senators on the Senate floor and was politically unpopular. The employees, who were named in the press release, alleged that the press release was made with malice and that it defamed them. Barr alleged that the press release was protected by either a qualified or absolute privilege. The district court instructed the jury to return a verdict for the employees if the jury found that the press release was defamatory. The jury returned a verdict for the employees, and Barr appealed on the sole issue of absolute privilege. The court of appeals found that Barr had acted outside the scope of his employment so that absolute privilege did not apply. Barr appealed and the Court remanded the case back to the court of appeals to address the qualified privilege. On remand, the court of appeals found that the press release was covered by qualified privilege that, because a jury could find that Barr acted with malice, would defeat the privilege. The court of appeals remanded the case to the district court for retrial. Barr again appealed on the issue of absolute privilege.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Harlan, J.)
What to do next…
Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.
You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 607,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Berkeley, and Northwestern—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students.Unlock this case briefRead our student testimonials
Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.
Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students.Learn about our approachRead more about Quimbee
Here's why 607,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:
- Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 33,800 briefs, keyed to 984 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
- The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
- Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
- Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.