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Cantrell v. Forest City Publishing Co.

United States Supreme Court
419 U.S. 245 (1974)


Facts

Forest City Publishing Co. (Forest City) (defendant) published an article written by Joseph Eszterhas (defendant) featuring the Cantrell family. Mr. Cantrell was killed in a bridge collapse five months earlier. Eszterhas went to the family’s home and interviewed the Cantrell children, but their mother, Margaret Cantrell, was not home. Despite this, Eszterhas wrote that Mrs. Cantrell would not talk about what happened to her husband or how the family is doing. He also wrote that Mrs. Cantrell “wears the same mask of non-expression she wore at the funeral.” The article also mischaracterized the Cantrells’ living conditions, overemphasizing the extent of the poverty they were living in. Mrs. Cantrell brought suit for invasion of privacy on a theory of false light. The jury returned a verdict in Mrs. Cantrell’s favor. The court of appeals reversed and Mrs. Cantrell appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Stewart, J.)

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