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Wallingford v. Zenith Radio Corp.

December 7, 1962

WILLIAM R. WALLINGFORD, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
ZENITH RADIO CORPORATION, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE



Author: Duffy

Before DUFFY, CASTLE and KILEY, Circuit Judges.

DUFFY, Circuit Judge.

This is an action for libel brought by plaintiff, a citizen of the State of Kansas. Defendant's principal place of business is Chicago, Illinois. Jurisdiction is based upon diversity of citizenship. The District Court, on defendant's motion, dismissed the complaint on the ground that the writings on which plaintiff's claim is founded were not libelous per se.

Plaintiff alleged that defendant, Zenith Radio Corporation, through one Frank Borta, maliciously injured plaintiff's good name and reputation in his "business and professional relations" as a Field Representative of the Department of Post-Graduate Medical Education, University of Kansas Medical Center, and as a vendor of hearing aids, by writing a letter to Dr. Cornelius P. Geotzinger, a Professor in the Department of Hearing and Speech, University of Kansas Medical Center.

The complaint sets out the letter as follows:

"DEAR DR. GOETZINGER,

"The following situation has been brought to my attention which I feel you would like to know of:

"1. A Mr. William R. Wallingford, who is employed by the University of Kansas, approached my dealers and Mr. Passarello, Zenith's Mid-West Dist. Branch Mgr., and indicated he was connected with your clinic (enclosed memo.)

"2. Then, reports from the field are that he is confusing the hard-of-hearing prospect by using the Univ. of Kansas station wagon on demonstrations of hearing aids.

"I have brought this to your attention, not because of dealer pressure, but the fine work and high standards of your clinic should certainly not be associated with something like this by anyone

"Sincerely,

FRANK W. BORTA,

Zenith Dist. ...


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