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Spahn v. Julian Messner, Inc.

250 N.Y.S.2d 529 (1964)

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Spahn v. Julian Messner, Inc.

New York Supreme Court

250 N.Y.S.2d 529 (1964)

Facts

Warren Spahn (plaintiff) was a famous left-handed pitcher. Julian Messner, Inc. (defendant) published an unauthorized fictional biography of Spahn that was designed for younger readers. The book was supposedly based on certain events of Spahn’s life and included Spahn’s name and picture. The book conveyed a false intimacy with Spahn and distorted, fabricated, and decontextualized events, conversations, and relationships. The book purported to cover Spahn’s private life, including his relationship with his father, dating life, and marriage. Spahn sued Julian Messner for invasion of privacy under state law. Spahn produced evidence of manufactured events and pervasive factual errors in the book, making the book something like a highly “embroidered” and “embellished” version of Spahn’s life. Julian Messner had sold 16,000 copies of the book at $3.25 per copy.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Markowitz, J.)

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