From our private database of 35,600+ case briefs...
Foretich v. Capital Cities/ABC, Inc.
United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
37 F.3d 1541 (1994)
American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. (ABC) (defendant) aired a docudrama based on the real-life custody battle over Hilary Foretich. Hilary’s parents’ dispute over her custody drew public attention because her mother, Elizabeth Morgan, was incarcerated for contempt of court after refusing to disclose Hilary’s location. Morgan accused Hilary’s father of abusing Hilary. Hilary’s grandparents, Vincent and Doris Foretich (plaintiffs), came to their son’s defense. They spoke to reporters, appeared on television, and gave press conferences to defend their son’s innocence. The president and Congress got involved to secure Morgan’s release from prison by passing federal legislation limiting the ability of courts to impose contempt in child-custody cases. During one scene in ABC’s docudrama, Elizabeth is shown playing with her grandparents, then cuts to Dr. Morgan, who says, “[Elizabeth’s] being kind to her abusers so she won’t be hurt again.” The Foretiches sued ABC for defamation, claiming that by using the word “abusers,” ABC had implied that they, too, were accused of abusing Hilary. The parties did not dispute that the show’s use of the plural was inadvertent. At trial, ABC argued that the Foretiches were limited-purpose public figures, requiring that ABC have acted with actual malice, not accidentally, to be liable for defamation. The Foretiches argued that they were not limited-purpose public figures, having only been drawn into the public eye in the reasonable defense of their son’s reputation. A jury found in favor of the Foretiches. ABC appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Murnaghan, J.)
What to do next…
Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.
You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 618,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Berkeley, and Northwestern—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students.Unlock this case briefRead our student testimonials
Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.
Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students.Learn about our approachRead more about Quimbee
Here's why 618,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:
- Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 35,600 briefs, keyed to 984 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
- The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
- Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
- Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.