Libel! I Wasn’t Accused of Killing Anyone in April — Only in May

From Magistrate Judge Lanny King’s Report and Recommendation recommending dismissal of plaintiff’s libel claim in Rhodes v. Buccieri, just adopted today by Judge Greg Stivers (W.D. Ky.):

Plaintiff claims that the [A & E Court Cam] episode’s statement that he was facing “CHARGES” for an “April 2016 Murder” was false and defamatory. The statement was, indeed, false because Plaintiff was charged with one murder occurring on May 4, 2016, and two murders occurring on May 22, 2016…. [But] the statement was not defamatory. Substantial truth is present if, notwithstanding a minor inaccuracy, the substance, gist, or sting of the allegedly defamatory statement remains the same minus the inaccuracy.

Here, the substance of the allegedly defamatory statement is that Plaintiff was charged with committing three murders in 2016. The gist remains justified even if the first murder occurred in April as opposed to May of 2016. In other words, the “humiliation, public ridicule, loss of personal reputation” about which Plaintiff complains is because he is facing three murder charges, not because Defendants misidentified the date of the first murder.

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