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Peoples Bank & Trust Co. of Mountain Home v. Globe Intern. Pub., Inc.
United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
978 F.2d 1065 (1992)
Globe International Publishing Inc. (Globe) (defendant) published the Sun. The Sun presented itself as a newspaper that reported stories that were true, if outlandish. Nothing in the Sun suggested that some stories were fully or partially made up. However, the Sun published true, false, and hybrid articles together without distinguishing between them. The Sun included disclaimers that informed readers which personal advertisements had not been investigated, implying that articles free of any disclaimers were investigated before publication. In one issue, the Sun used a photo of 97-year-old Nellie Mitchell as the illustration for a fictional story. Mitchell was well-known in her community of Mountain Home, Arkansas, for delivering newspapers for almost 50 years. The cover of the Sun showed Mitchell’s image next to a headline about a grandmother forced to quit her job at age 101. The inside article included another photo of Mitchell and a fake story that claimed the grandmother referred to in the headline was an Australian who quit delivering newspapers because she had an extramarital affair with a wealthy customer and became pregnant. The Sun was circulated in the Mountain Home area, and the edition with Mitchell’s photograph sold out. Peoples Bank and Trust Company of Mountain Home (Peoples Bank) (plaintiff) filed a complaint in federal court as the conservator of Mitchell’s estate for claims including false-light invasion of privacy. A Globe employee testified that the picture of Mitchell was used without verifying whether Mitchell was still alive. Globe agreed that the story was purely fictional and that under a false-light analysis the story would be highly offensive to a reasonable person. The jury found Globe liable for invasion of privacy by false light.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Heaney, J.)
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