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Florida Star v. B.J.F.

United States Supreme Court
491 U.S. 524 (1989)


A Florida statute makes it unlawful to “print, publish, or broadcast…in any instrument of mass communication” the name of the victim of a sexual offense. In 1983, B.J.F. (plaintiff) reported to the Florida police that she had been robbed and sexually assaulted by an unknown assailant. The police department prepared a report of the incident that identified B.J.F. by name and placed the report in its public pressroom. A reporter, from the Florida Star newspaper (defendant), copied the report and summarized it in an article containing B.J.F.’s full name. B.J.F. filed suit in the Circuit Court of Duval County against the police department and the Florida Star alleging that these parties negligently violated the Florida statute. The jury awarded B.J.F. $75,000 in compensatory damages and $25,000 in punitive damages. The verdict was upheld on appeal and defendants appealed to the United States Supreme Court.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Marshall, J.)

Dissent (White, J.)

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