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Smith v. Atkins

Louisiana Court of Appeal, Fourth Circuit
622 So. 2d 795 (La. App. 1993)


Professor Curklin Atkins (defendant) called Theresa Smith (plaintiff), one of his law students, a slut during class. News of the incident spread quickly around the school. As a result of this, Smith became depressed and began to withdraw from the other students. Smith brought suit against Atkins for defamation. At trial, some students testified that they stopped hanging around Smith for fear of being associated with her and becoming the target of jokes. One student testified that the incident “would cause him not to offer Theresa a partnership or a job if he were in a position to do so, because he could not afford to have someone of questionable character affiliated with him professionally.” Another student testified that he had not previously thought that Smith was a slut, but that Atkins’s stature as a professor made him rethink his opinion of Smith. The trial court found Atkins guilty and awarded Smith $1,500 in damages. Smith appealed, arguing that the damages amount was too low.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Waltzer, J.)

Concurrence (Barry, J.)

Concurrence (Plotkin, J.)

Dissent (Schott, C.J.)

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