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Browning v. Clinton

United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
292 F.3d 235 (D.C. Cir. 2002)


Facts

Dolly Browning (plaintiff) claimed to have had a lengthy friendship and extramarital affair with former President Clinton (defendant). Browning wrote a “semi-autobiographical novel” in which she detailed the affair. Browning claims she received encouragement from an editor, but that shortly thereafter Browning’s brother, Clinton’s brother, and a Deputy White House Counsel began threatening her if she published the book. Browning claims Clinton apologized, and her sister negotiated an agreement about what Browning was permitted to say. Browning hired a literary agent and received media attention. However, Browning got no publication offers and was unable to sell the rights. The New Yorker (defendant) published an article including statements by a publisher that the company would never publish Browning’s book, as it was not up to their standards. Browning sued Clinton, two lawyers, an aide, The New Yorker, and its writer (defendants) for eight claims under federal and common law, including disparagement of property. In support of that claim, Browning’s amended complaint alleged that as a result of publication of The New Yorker article, she was unable to sell the book, resulting in damages related to marketing and business expenses, loss of goodwill, emotional distress, and mental anguish. The defendants filed a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (FRCP) 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The district court dismissed with prejudice, and Browning appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Tatel, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
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  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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