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Curtis Publishing Co. v. Butts

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
351 F.2d 702 (5th Cir. 1965)


Facts

On March 23, 1963, Curtis Publishing Co. (Curtis) (plaintiff) published an article in an issue of the Saturday Evening Post claiming that Wally Butts (defendant), the Athletic Director at the University of Georgia, rigged a game the previous fall. Butts brought suit against Curtis Publishing Co., alleging that the article was libelous. At trial, the testimony made clear that Curtis had knowingly published false information. The jury rendered a verdict in favor of Butts, finding $460,000 in general damages and $3,000,000 in punitive damages. Curtis made a motion for a new trial based on the size of the punitive damages awarded, which was granted conditioned upon Butts’ failure to remit the portion of the award above $400,000. Another motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict made by Curtis was denied. Butts filed a remittitur, and a judgment for Butts in the amount of $460,000 was entered. Curtis filed a motion under Rule 60(b) for a new trial and was denied. Curtis appealed.

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Holding and Reasoning (Spears, J.)

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Dissent (Rives, J.)

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