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Seelig v. Infinity Broadcasting Corp.

97 Cal. App. 4th 798, 119 Cal. Rptr. 2d 108 (2002)

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Seelig v. Infinity Broadcasting Corp.

California Court of Appeal

97 Cal. App. 4th 798, 119 Cal. Rptr. 2d 108 (2002)

Facts

Seelig was a contestant on the reality television program Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire. Seelig appeared along with 50 other contestants. Once the show aired, Seelig’s total on-screen time was less than one minute. In anticipation of the show’s airing, a local radio show host, Uzette Salazar (defendant), invited Seelig to come on her talk show and discuss being a contestant. Seelig declined, saying that she believed she would be ridiculed publicly if she did and that her contract with the television show prohibited it. Salazar and her co-host, Vincent Crackhorn (defendant), then discussed Seelig on-air without mentioning her by name. Specifically, Salazar said that a contestant of the upcoming show worked at another local radio station, that she was the ex-wife of someone who worked in the building with Salazar, and that the ex-husband told Salazar that his ex-wife was a “big skank.” The hosts also called her “chicken butt” and a “local loser.” Seelig said that following the radio talk show, she received several calls from friends and coworkers stating that they knew she was the one being discussed on the program. Seelig confronted her ex-husband, who denied calling her a “big skank.” Salazar later admitted that the ex-husband had not made the statement to her and apologized. Seelig filed a complaint against Salazar, Crackhorn, and their employer Infinity Broadcasting Corp. (defendant). The complaint alleged slander per se, slander, invasion of privacy, negligent hiring, and intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED). The trial court sustained demurrers to the slander and IIED claims but denied the defendants’ motion to strike the complaint pursuant to California’s anti-SLAPP statute. Salazar, Crackhorn, and Infinity appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Simons, J.)

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