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Kilian v. Doubleday & Co., Inc.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court
79 A.2d 657 (Pa. 1951)


Joseph O’Connell wrote an article for a Doubleday & Co., Inc. (Doubleday) (defendant) book that described the conditions in an army prison camp during World War II. The article described Colonel Kilian (plaintiff), the commanding officer at the camp, as a violent man who not only sanctioned, but committed violent acts of cruel and unusual punishment on a number of prisoners at the camp. In actuality, O’Connell was never at the camp. His article was based on stories he had heard about Kilian. O’Connell’s professor instructed him to make the article more interesting, and thus O’Connell changed the article from third person to first person, claiming that he was at the camp and witnessed Kilian committing these acts. Kilian was in fact tried and convicted of neglect in the camp, but was not convicted of any other crimes including many of those charged in the article. Colonel Kilian brought a libel suit against Doubleday. The trial judge sent the case to a jury which found in favor of Doubleday. Kilian moved for a new trial and the motion was denied. Kilian appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Stern, J.)

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