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Khawar v. Globe International, Inc.

Supreme Court of California
965 P.2d 696 (1998)


Khawar (plaintiff) was working as a freelance photographer, and was photographed near Robert F. Kennedy shortly before he was assassinated in 1968. Sirhan Sirhan was tried and convicted as the sole assassin. In 1988, a book was published that claimed that Kennedy had been assassinated by the Iranian Shah’s secret police, working with the mafia. The following year, an article in a weekly tabloid published by Globe International, Inc. (defendant) summarized the allegations contained in the book, and included a picture of a group of men standing near Kennedy, with an arrow pointing to Khawar, identifying him as assassin Ali Ahmand. Khawar and his father, Ali Ahmad, sued for defamation. The jury found that Globe’s statements were false and defamatory and were published negligently and with malice, and awarded Khawar damages for injury to his reputation and emotional distress, presumed damages, and punitive damages. The Court of Appeal affirmed, finding that Khawar was a private figure, that the neutral reportage privilege therefore does not protect Globes article, and that the evidence supported a finding of negligence and actual malice. The court granted Globe’s petition for review.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Kennard, J.)

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