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Burnett v. National Enquirer, Inc.

California Court of Appeal
144 Cal. App. 3d 991 (1983)


Facts

The National Enquirer (defendant) published a four-sentence article in its gossip column that claimed that Carol Burnett (plaintiff) got into a loud argument with Henry Kissinger and acted erratically at a restaurant. Burnett’s attorney requested in writing that the National Enquirer print a correction or retraction, which the National Enquirer did print. Burnett nonetheless filed suit for libel. The jury awarded Burnett $300,000 in compensatory damages and $1.3 million in punitive damages. The trial court reduced the damages award to $50,000 in compensatory and $750,000 in punitive damages. The National Enquirer appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Roth, 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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