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Brown v. Kelly Broadcasting Co.

Supreme Court of California
771 P.2d 406 (1989)


Facts

Brown (plaintiff) was a licensed contractor. Kelly Broadcasting Company (Kelly) (defendant) broadcast a story on the local news indicating that Brown performed incomplete and shoddy work for one of her clients. Brown brought suit for defamation. Kelly argued that state law provided a public-interest privilege, under which the news media could not be liable for defamation if the allegedly defamatory statement concerned a matter of public interest. For support, Kelly relied on an interested-person privilege under California state law. The state statute established a privilege for communications made without malice between persons with a shared interest in the subject matter of the communication. The trial court granted summary judgment to Kelly, and the court of appeal reversed. Kelly appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Eagleson, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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