The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mihm, Chief Judge.
This written opinion is entered nunc pro tunc to the
minute-entry dated October 21, 1992.
On September 25, 1992, Defendant Winston I. Smart filed a
Motion for Summary Judgment for Counts II through VIII of the
Plaintiffs' Complaint. On October 20, 1992, this Court heard
oral arguments on the Motion. At that hearing, the Motion was
granted in part and denied in part. On November 6, 1992, at the
Final Pretrial Conference, Plaintiff David L. Purnell submitted
a memorandum with respect to his status as a public figure in
this action. On November 17, 1992, Smart submitted a response
to Purnell's memorandum and a Motion for Reconsideration of
Summary Judgment on Plaintiff's Count VIII.
Counts II, IV, and VI allege defamation actions contending,
in relevant part, that Smart made false representations and
statements concerning the fitness and integrity of the
respective named Plaintiff in the performance of employment
duties. Counts III, V, and VII allege defamation actions
contending, in relevant part, that Smart made false statements
and publications with malice imputing unfitness and want of
integrity with respect to the employment duties of the
respective named Plaintiff. Count VIII alleges an invasion of
privacy action by Purnell against Smart.
In this written Order, the Court clarifies its oral holding
of October 20, 1992, reconsiders the public figure status of
Purnell, and reconsiders summary judgment as to Count VIII. The
Court GRANTS summary judgment in favor of Smart on Counts II
and IV, DENIES summary judgment in favor of the Plaintiffs on
Counts III, V, VI, VII, and VIII, and upon reconsideration,
finds that Purnell is not a Public Figure for purposes of this
action. The Court's reasoning and findings are set forth below.
Pursuant to Rule 56(c) summary judgment is proper only if it
is demonstrated "that there is no genuine issue as to any
material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a
judgment as a matter of law." McGraw-Edison Co. v. Walt Disney
Productions, 787 F.2d 1163, 1167 (7th Cir. 1986). The burden is
upon the moving party to establish that no material facts are
in genuine dispute, and any doubt as to the existence of a
genuine issue may be resolved against the moving party. Adickes
v. S. H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 166, 90 S.Ct. 1598, 1610,
26 L.Ed.2d 142 (1970); Backes v. Valspar Corp., 783 F.2d 77, 79
(7th Cir. 1986). A fact is material if it is outcome
determinative under applicable law. Shlay v. Montgomery,
802 F.2d 918, 920 (7th Cir. 1986). Even if the facts are not in
dispute, summary judgment is inappropriate when the information
before the court reveals a good faith dispute as to inferences
to be drawn from those facts. Powers v. Dole, 782 F.2d 689, 694
(7th Cir. 1986). Finally, summary judgment generally is not an
appropriate means of resolving questions of motive and intent.
Bartman v. Allis — Chalmers Corp., 799 F.2d 311, 312 (7th Cir.
In deciding a motion for summary judgment the trial court
must determine whether the evidence presented by the party
opposing the summary judgment is such that a reasonable jury
might find in favor of that party after a trial.
The inquiry performed is the threshold inquiry of
determining whether there is the need for a
trial-whether, in other words, there are any
genuine factual issues that properly can be
resolved only by finder of fact because they may
reasonably be resolved in favor of either party.
[T]his standard mirrors the standard for a
directed verdict under Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure 50(a), which is that the trial judge
must direct a verdict if, under the governing law,
there can be but one reasonable conclusion as to
the verdict. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 250, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2511, 91 L.Ed.2d 202
See also: Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 106
S.Ct. 2548, 2553, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986); Barker v. Henderson,
Franklin, Starnes & Holt, 797 F.2d 490, 496 (7th Cir. 1986).
The prima facie case for a claim of defamation is well
established and not disputed: (1) defamatory language on the
part of the defendant; (2) the defamatory language must be of
or concerning the plaintiff; (3) publication of the defamatory
language by the defendant to a third person; and (4) damage to
the reputation of the plaintiff. If the defamation refers to a
public official or public figure or involves a matter of public
concern, thus invoking First Amendment protection, two
additional elements must be proven as part of the prima facie
case. The plaintiff must prove (5) the falsity of the
defamatory language and (6) fault on the part of the defendant,
in addition to the four elements mentioned above.
At issue for purposes of this Motion is whether the various
Plaintiffs in this case are public officials, public figures,
or whether this is a matter of public concern, thus ...