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The Florida Star v. B.J.F.

United States Supreme Court
491 U.S. 524 (1989)


Facts

B.J.F. (plaintiff) reported to the county sheriff’s department (defendant) that she had been raped and robbed by an unknown person. The official report prepared by the department contained the full name of B.J.F. and was put in the press room, where it was seen by a reporter for The Florida Star (defendant). The reporter published the report, including B.J.F.’s name, in the newspaper. B.J.F. sued the sheriff’s department and The Florida Star for violation of state statute § 794.03 which made it unlawful to “print, publish, or broadcast…in any instrument of mass communication” the name of a rape victim. B.J.F. settled out of court with the sheriff’s department for $2,500 and a jury found The Florida Star liable under the state law in the amount of $75,000 in compensatory damages and $25,000 in punitive damages. The appellate court affirmed the trial court judgment and The Florida Star appealed. The Florida Supreme Court denied review and the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari to review.

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Marshall, J.)

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Dissent (White, J.)

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