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PAWELEK v. PARAMOUNT STUDIOS CORP.

September 27, 1983

ANNE PAWELEK, INDIVIDUALLY, ETC., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
PARAMOUNT STUDIOS CORPORATION, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Shadur, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Anne Pawelek ("Pawelek") has filed each of these lawsuits as a purported class action against Paramount Studios Corporation, its Chairman Barry Diller and all other Paramount "owners and executives" (collectively "Paramount" in the singular). Both suits share a single gravamen: the claimed impropriety of Paramount's inclusion of "Polish jokes" in its motion picture "Flashdance."*fn1 Paramount has now moved pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. ("Rule") 12(b)(6) to dismiss each of Pawelek's pro se Complaints (collectively the "Complaint" in the singular) for failure to state a claim. For the reasons stated in this memorandum opinion and order, Paramount's motion is granted.

Motion To Dismiss

Understandably only the Complaint in 83 C 5109 identifies a specific jurisdictional source:*fn2 18 U.S.C. § 241-42, federal criminal statutes defining civil rights violations. But as Paramount points out, it is well settled no private right of action inheres in those criminal provisions. Aldabe v. Aldabe, 616 F.2d 1089, 1092 (9th Cir. 1980) (per curiam); Weiland v. Byrne, 392 F. Supp. 21, 22 (N.D.Ill. 1975).

However, in keeping with our judicial system's solicitude towards pro se litigants,*fn3 this Court has searched for other viable claims that might lurk within the Complaint. It has considered three possibilities:

    1. a claim under the various federal civil rights
  statutes (such as 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 1985(3));*fn4
  and
    2. and 3. state law claims for defamation and
  intentional infliction of emotional distress.*fn5

As for the Complaint's arguable civil rights claim, this Court's independent research has disclosed no authority for the proposition that group defamation by private actors — the gravamen of the Complaint — infringes any federal constitutional or statutory rights. Rather the case law establishes just the opposite. See, e.g., United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America v. Scott, ___ U.S. ___, 103 S.Ct. 3352, 3356-57, 77 L.Ed.2d 1049 (1983) (Section 1985(3) does not apply to "wholly private conspiracies" to abridge federal rights that shield the individual from government action); Paul v. Davis, 424 U.S. 693, 701-10, 96 S.Ct. 1155, 1160-65, 47 L.Ed.2d 405 (1976) (mere defamation even by state officials is not actionable under Section 1983*fn6). Absent any supporting authority, this Court is certainly not willing to embrace such a bizarre theory of federal civil rights liability.

Pawelek's failure to plead special (i.e., pecuniary) damages*fn7 defeats any possible defamation claim. As such cases as Whitby v. Associates Discount Corp., 59 Ill.App.2d 337, 340, 207 N.E.2d 482, 484 (3d Dist. 1965) teach, Illinois law requires proof of special damages unless the defamatory statement (whether characterized as libel or slander) falls within one of the four "per se" defamatory categories:

    1. those imputing the commission of a criminal
  offense;
    2. those imputing infection with a communicable
  disease of any kind which, if true, would tend to
  exclude one from society;
    3. those imputing inability to perform or want of
  integrity in the discharge of duties of ...

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