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Rosenbloom v. Metromedia, Inc.

403 U.S. 29 (1971)

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Rosenbloom v. Metromedia, Inc.

United States Supreme Court

403 U.S. 29 (1971)

Facts

George Rosenbloom (plaintiff) distributed “nudist magazines” in the Philadelphia metropolitan area. At the same time, the city was cracking down on obscenity. Officers arrested Rosenbloom for selling allegedly obscene material. Following a warranted search of Rosenbloom’s home, police seized his allegedly obscene inventory. There were news broadcasts stating that obscene materials had been confiscated from Rosenbloom’s home. Rosenbloom initiated legal action against the city, police officials, and local news media alleging that the seized materials were not obscene and seeking to stop further police harassment and publicity. At that point, Metromedia, Inc. (defendant) reported that “girlie book peddlers” in the “smut literature racket” were seeking judicial relief, referring to Rosenbloom but not identifying him by name. Subsequently, Rosenbloom was acquitted of his criminal-obscenity charge because his magazines were not obscene. Rosenbloom sued Metromedia alleging defamation. A trial was held, and a jury found in favor of Rosenbloom. The trial court reduced the jury’s punitive-damage award but otherwise allowed the verdict to stand. The Third Circuit reversed, holding that the evidence was insufficient to reasonably support a finding that Metromedia had made its report with actual malice. The United States Supreme Court granted review.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Brennan, J.)

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