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Florida Publishing Co. v. Fletcher

340 So. 2d 914 (1976)

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Florida Publishing Co. v. Fletcher

Florida Supreme Court

340 So. 2d 914 (1976)

Facts

While Fletcher, a Florida homeowner (plaintiff), was in New York, her 17-year-old daughter was killed in a fire at Fletcher’s house. During the fire marshal and police sergeant’s official investigation, they invited the news media to accompany them. Upon the invitation, media representatives quietly and peaceably entered Fletcher’s home through an open door, without objection and causing no damage, for the purpose of preparing their news coverage of the fire and death. As part of the official investigation, the fire marshal took a picture of the silhouette where Fletcher’s daughter’s body had been found. The photo was not clear and used the last of the fire marshal’s film, so the fire marshal asked a media photographer, Cranford, to take a picture of the silhouette. Cranford obliged, and the photo became part of the official investigation file for the fire and police. Cranford’s silhouette photo also ran in a newspaper owned by the Florida Publishing Company (publisher) (defendant) the day after the fire. Fletcher read the paper and that is when she first learned about the facts surrounding the death of her daughter. Thereafter, Fletcher sued the publisher on several counts, including a claim for trespass. The trial court granted the publisher’s motion for summary judgment and dismissed the trespass count after finding as a matter of law the trespass, if any, was consented to by the doctrine of common custom and usage. The court of appeals reversed and found that the proofs were insufficient to resolve the trespass issue by summary judgment. The publisher appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Roberts, J.)

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