Busch v. Viacom International
United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas
477 F. Supp. 2d 764 (2007)
Jon Stewart (defendant), the anchor of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (The Daily Show), a nightly news satire program, aired a “fake endorsement” of a dietary shake promoted by television-evangelist Pat Robertson. At the end of the segment, the show replayed a brief episode of The 700 Club, a talk show led by Robertson, which included the image of Phillip Busch (plaintiff). Busch was a bodybuilder who thanked Robertson in the segment for Busch’s 200-pound weight loss over a 15-month period, after consuming Robertson’s dietary shakes. The entire segment was only a few seconds long. Busch was never mentioned in the broadcast by name, and his appearance in the clip from The 700 Club was never identified. Busch filed a pro se defamation suit in state court against Stewart and Viacom International, Inc., doing business as MTV Networks (Viacom) (defendant), the company that owned The Daily Show, seeking compensatory and punitive damages. The defendants removed the matter to federal district court. The district court granted Stewart’s motion to dismiss the complaint against him, due to a lack of personal jurisdiction. Viacom moved to dismiss the complaint against it for failure to state a claim.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Lindsay, J.)
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