Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

GROSSMAN v. SMART

November 24, 1992

MARGARET R. GROSSMAN, C. KRISTINA GUNSALUS, AND DAVID R. PURNELL, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
WINSTON I. SMART, DEFENDANT, COUNTER-PLAINTIFF, AND THIRD-PARTY PLAINTIFF. V. MARGARET R. GROSSMAN AND C. KRISTINA GUNSALUS, IN THEIR INDIVIDUAL CAPACITIES, JOINTLY AND SEVERALLY, COUNTER-DEFENDANTS, AND C. ALLEN BOCK, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY, THIRD-PARTY DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mihm, Chief Judge.

  ORDER

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.

DISCUSSION

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. 1986).

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
  (1986).

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 ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.