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Time, Inc. v. Hill

United States Supreme Court
385 U.S. 374 (1967)



In 1952, James Hill (plaintiff) and his wife and five children were held hostage in their home for nineteen hours by three escaped convicts. The convicts ultimately released the Hill family unharmed. The story gained significant press, however, after the police subsequently killed two of the convicts and captured the third. In 1955, a magazine owned by Time, Inc. (Time) (defendant) published an article which mentioned a new Broadway play coming out. The play was titled “The Desperate Hours” and purportedly chronicled the experience of Hill and his family. However, scenes from the play contained factual inaccuracies about the conduct of the Hill family during their captivity. Hill brought suit against Time on the ground that the article portrayed his family in a “false and untrue” manner. The jury awarded Hill $50,000 in actual damages and $25,000 in punitive damages. The Court of Appeals of New York affirmed on the ground that Time’s fictionalized account of Hill’s life, and its unauthorized use in the article, were not protected by the “newsworthiness” defense. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Brennan, J.)

Concurrence (Douglas, J.)

Dissent (Fortas, J.)

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