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What Are the Libel Laws in Indiana?

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by shmessy, Nov 9, 2007.

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  1. shmessy

    shmessy Maude Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #75 Jersey

    http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071109/COLUMNISTS01/711090434/1034/COLUMNISTS01

    Old, washed-up coach.
    That must be what it says because that's what Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel called Shula the other day. Shula drew Vrabel's ire after the former Colts and Dolphins coach had the audacity to say what many NFL coaches and players think:
    That whatever this year's Patriots accomplish -- a perfect season, a Super Bowl, whatever -- it will be accompanied by an asterisk because they stole opponents' signals.
    Maybe not an actual asterisk, as in "*hey, they cheated,'' but a mental asterisk, an implied asterisk, one that you know belongs there without actually being there.
    Vrabel, when asked about Shula's opinion, could have shown a modicum of respect and simply said he disagreed with Shula. Instead, he dismissed the former coach's views and called Shula an "old, washed-up coach.''
    _______________

    Vrabel never called him that. Kravitz is putting it in quotes that Vrabel used those words on Shula.
  2. WWJDD

    WWJDD Rookie

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    You cannot base a libel suit on an opinion - simple as that. Libel suits can only be based on false statements of fact.
  3. Solaris

    Solaris Rookie

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    Glad to see the media can misquote as always. He called him an old coach. He said the players were washed up. But who cares, another day another dig. What else is new? Lots and lots of jealousy because by the time this season's over the Patriots will have re-written most of the record books.
  4. shmessy

    shmessy Maude Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #75 Jersey

    Exactly. Kravitz wasn't stating an opinion. (read the column)

    He stated that Vrabel called Shula "a washed up old coach". He put it in quotations. Vrabel never said such a thing. He called the PLAYERS "washed up old players".

    Black and white libel.
  5. Tunescribe

    Tunescribe PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #61 Jersey

    Vrabel was misquoted, he called the Dolphins players old and washed up, not Shula. To claim libel he'd have to build a case for being deliberately misquoted ("malice of forethought"). Kravitz can, and should, absolve himself by having a correction printed.
  6. ctpatsfan77

    ctpatsfan77 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    :agree:

    If you put it in quotes, you are, by definition, attributing those words to that person. At that point, it's a matter of fact.
  7. shmessy

    shmessy Maude Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #75 Jersey

    Where did WWJDD go?
  8. Bella*chick

    Bella*chick Addicted to the light

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    Naw, just a misquote. Libel has some seriously stringent requirements. The statements have to destroy the person's good standing in the community. I don't think that particular misquote comes even close.

    A libelous statment would be something along the lines of "So and so cheats on his taxes and stole money from charity." And it has to do damage to the person's reputation in the community.

    What Easterbroo did with Belichick was way closer, except it was fuzzy whether or not it was his "opinion" and Belichick is a pretty well known public figure. Both of those things weaken a case for libel.
  9. shmessy

    shmessy Maude Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #75 Jersey


    If the misquote is not corrected by Kravitz or his newspaper after it has been pointed out to them, it is considered a deliberate falsification. That IS a basis for a libel suit.

    Further, the misquote was used as the BASIS for the Kravitz column. It was the central point of it. If it's a mistake, then they have to correct it. If it is deliberate and they don't issue a correction, then Vrabel has them dead to right.
  10. godef

    godef Rookie

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    You misunderstand. The alleged libel is the Indy sportswriter saying that Vrabel said those things.
  11. tatepatsfan

    tatepatsfan Rookie

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    In Indiana, in order to prove libel (which is a subset of defamation), one must prove 4 things:

    1. a communication with defamatory imputation
    2. malice
    3. publication
    4. damages
  12. He Ban Me

    He Ban Me Banned

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    You guys are actually Hoity enough to think that a court of Law would listen to such a suit:rolleyes:
  13. tatepatsfan

    tatepatsfan Rookie

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    No I don't think this suit would stand up. Sure makes for a fun discussion though.
  14. bradmahn

    bradmahn Rookie

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    I know, man. A court of law would probably just dismiss it as a midwestern inferiority complex.

    Kravitz has proven himself a shmuck, right, Shmessy? :D
  15. shmessy

    shmessy Maude Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Yup. In black and white. Also, libelous, since it is there and not an opinion. It was a statement. He can of course, correct and /or apologize and that would take the "malice" point off. But if he is informed of it and sticks to his guns, Mike Vrabel has him dead to right legally.
  16. shmessy

    shmessy Maude Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #75 Jersey

    A court of law is, by definition, "hoity".

    Of course, your only point of reference would be Judge Judy.
  17. PatsFaninAZ

    PatsFaninAZ Rookie

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    A misquote of a public figure's statement can be a basis for a libel suit only if (1) the misquote was altered with malice, (2) the context of the article was such that readers would assume the quote was an actual quote not a paraphrase, (3) the change in quote constitutes a significant and defamatory difference. Masson v. New York Magazine. U.S. Supreme Court, 1991.

    Moreover, a single instance of misquoting in one article is virtually never a basis for libel unless it fundamentally changes the meaning in a way that constitutes defamation per se.

    This is not actionable libel.
  18. kolbitr

    kolbitr Rookie

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    I am daily amazed at the laziness of these columnists. Can't they even be bothered to do some simple fact-checking? It would seem that sports columns are held to about the same standards as internet message boards.

    Once more the reason why BB has instructed his players to say nothing of interest to the media. Vrabel was feisty, and now he is being misquoted and pilloried.
  19. PatsFaninAZ

    PatsFaninAZ Rookie

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    If the original statement was not published with malice, he doesn't need to retract unless he intends to republish, even if he discovers he was wrong.
  20. OtisCampbell

    OtisCampbell Rookie

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    Will we be getting your bill?:)
  21. shmessy

    shmessy Maude Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #75 Jersey

    Point by point, I'll argue it does:

    1) Kravitz has by now been fully informed of the misquote. If he or the Indy Star do NOT issue a correction/retraction, then there IS malice.

    2) No one can argue against that the "readers would assume the quote was an actual quote not a paraphrase"

    3) "Significant and defammatory difference" can be argued here. Vrabel is from the Midwest, played at OSU, still is big in that region. He has stated that after the NFL he wants to get into coaching. You don't think misquoting him in a Midwestern paper does him any damages going forward? It can definitely BE ARGUED.
  22. shmessy

    shmessy Maude Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #75 Jersey

    Actually, if there was a simple misquoting of a public figure as the basis for a thread on this board, it would be gone the minute a Mod would see it.

    The IndyStar doesn't live up to our standards! :)
  23. speed

    speed Rookie

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    Regardless if he has a case, it would be a terrible PR move for Vrabel to pursue legal action, it would only validate a media article and bring much wider attention to something that will be yesterdays forgotten news, well, tomorrow, imho.

    I would bet BB would not welcome the attention something like this would bring.
  24. shmessy

    shmessy Maude Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #75 Jersey


    Priceless! :D
  25. speed

    speed Rookie

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    or mayybbbe he would welcome the attention a lawsuit would bring? Are you disagreeing or agreeing or something else?
  26. PatsFaninAZ

    PatsFaninAZ Rookie

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    Not really. Misquotes happen all the time. If they are of public figures, they're almost always not actionable.

    1) But there's no pubication, which is the first element of defamation/libel. If the malice is aquired after publication, but there is no new publication, then there's no libel. There's no action for wrongful failure to retract after aquiring malice.

    2) Read the case. In this case there is an even more significant problem that what the reporter is misquoting is another's report of the quote. This wouldn't qualify.

    3) Damages isn't what this element was about. The point is that you can't base a libel suit merely on the fact that the words inside the marks weren't actually spoken, if the misquoted person is a public figure. Not only must there be a misquote, but it must be a substantial misquote in a way that fundamentally alters the character of what was said. The fact that vrabel actually used the words "washed up" in connection with a comment about something said by Shula, and it is the only purported misquote in the article, makes it a no brainer legally.

    Can it be argued? I guess in the sense that Vrabel could file a complaint and it might take several months before it got dismissed.

    In any event, the key point is that the mere fact that the words in the quote marks were not the words Vrabel spoke does not make it libelous.
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2007
  27. Joker

    Joker PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I'm gonna sue somebody or something before this day is done
  28. Tunescribe

    Tunescribe PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #61 Jersey

    I think the crux of the problem here, Shmess, is that Vrabel would have to present evidence in court that the piece caused damage. The writer did a crappy thing, but extrapolating that into tangible damage to Vrabel's career is speculatory at best. IF this bothers Vrabel, he should have his lawyer contact the newspaper and the writer's editor with the tape of what Vrabel said and demand a correction.
  29. He Ban Me

    He Ban Me Banned

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    Uh, good one:confused:

    I guess it is a bye week, by it appears as though you are pretty serious about this whole thing. Don't you have anything better to do, like moderate and scold those who use the term "cheatrianapolis""??
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2007
  30. Joker

    Joker PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    "Cheatrianapolis"..copyright Joker 2007...
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