Legislative Act: Section 41-1-6-9 of the state statutes defines defamation as the intentional publication of a false statement about a person. The statute defines publication as communication to a third person.
Case Law: Ender v. Gault is an opinion of the highest court in the state. In the case, Gault wrote a letter to Ender accusing Ender of defrauding his clients. Gault intended to hand-deliver the letter to Ender at a party at Ender's house. Gault became intoxicated at the party and left the letter on Ender's kitchen table. The letter was in an unsealed envelope with Ender's name on it. A business competitor of Ender, who was at the party, opened and read the letter.
Ender sued Gault for defamation. In its ruling in favor of Ender, the court stated that "intentional publication as used in the statute includes publication that occurs as a result of the gross negligence of the defendant." The court held that Gault's act of leaving the envelope unsealed on the kitchen table during a party constituted gross negligence.
Facts: Tom is a business associate of Allen. He believes Allen is stealing from their clients. Tom writes a letter to Allen stating that he knows Allen is stealing and that he intends to file criminal charges.
Tom, intending to hand-deliver the letter to Allen, goes to a restaurant where Allen usually has lunch. After waiting an hour for Allen, one of Allen's friends enters the restaurant. Tom folds the letter and seals it with tape. He gives the letter to the friend and asks him to deliver it to Allen. He does not tell the friend not to open the letter. The friend peels back the tape, reads the letter, reseals it, and delivers it to Allen. Allen finds out that the friend read the letter and sues Tom for defamation under § 41-1-6-9.
Assignment: Take into consideration the statute, the court opinion, and the facts when doing the following.
Part A Prepare an argument in support of the position that Tom defamed Allen.
Part B Prepare a counterargument to the argument prepared in part A.

  • CreatedSeptember 03, 2015
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