SUPREME COURT CLARIFIES OPINION IN DEFAMATION CASE

Neely v. Wilson
Texas Supreme Court, No. 11-0228 (January 31, 2014)
Guzman (opinion)
In June 2013, we reported that the Supreme Court in Neely v. Wilson reversed summary judgment for media defendants and held that a rebroadcast of defamatory statements made by others is itself defamatory. Previous post here.  The defendants moved for rehearing, and in their briefing construed the Court’s original opinion (as we did) to mean that a substantial-truth defense in this context requires proof that the third-party statements were themselves true, not merely proof that the defendant accurately reported the allegations. In a corrected opinion, the Court rejected this characterization of its opinion, stating in a new footnote that it actually “leave[s] open the question of whether a broadcast whose gist is merely that allegations were made is substantially true if the allegations were accurately repeated.” The footnote explains that, whether or not accurate reporting of third-party allegations is shielded, summary judgment was improper in this case because there was a fact issue as to whether the defendants’ broadcast accurately characterized the allegations made by the Medical Board. The Court therefore denied the motion for rehearing.

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