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Muzikowski v. Paramount Pictures Corp.
United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
322 F.3d 918 (7th Cir. 2003)
In 2000, Paramount Pictures Corp. (Paramount) (defendant) released a movie based on a book written by Daniel Coyle about his experiences as a Little League coach in the projects in Chicago. The book referenced Robert Muzikowski (plaintiff) by name, as Muzikowski was a fellow coach with Coyle. Paramount’s movie contained a fictional character loosely based on Muzikowski, but named the character Conor O’Neill. However, O’Neill contained many derogatory features that Muzikowski did not have, such as a drinking and gambling addiction, and several arrests, bar fights, and anger issues, among other traits. Additionally, the movie portrayed O’Neill as getting into coaching to pay off gambling debt, when Muzikowski stated he started coaching simply because he had “genuine concern for children.” Although Muzikowski’s name was not mentioned anywhere in the film, several of his friends and family called before the movie was released to inform him that Paramount was making a movie about him. Muzikowski sought to enjoin distribution of the film on the ground that it was defamatory. When his efforts, failed, Muzikowski brought suit for damages on claims of both defamation per se and defamation per quod. The district court granted summary judgment for Paramount on both claims, and Muzikowski appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Wood, J.)
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