Melvin Belli (plaintiff) was a well-known attorney. Jean Yothers, a reporter for a newspaper owned by Orlando Daily Newspapers, Inc. (ODN) (defendant), heard a story about Belli in which he was asked to speak at a Florida Bar Association panel. Belli was not to be paid for speaking, but the Florida Bar agreed to pick up his hotel tab. The story claimed that Belli ran up significant clothing bills which he charged to his hotel room. However, this part of the story was false. Yothers nonetheless published the story with embellishments in her gossip column. Belli brought suit against ODN alleging slander and libel. The district court dismissed the claims for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, and Belli appealed.