New York decisions define libel, in accordance with the usual rubric, as consisting of utterances which arouse "hatred, contempt, scorn, obloquy or shame," and the like.
Plaintiff appealed the decision of the court dismissing, for insufficiency in law upon its face, plaintiff's complaint against defendant for libel. Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging that defendant published an article that charged plaintiff with having represented the Communist Party, which was untrue and malicious. The lower court dismissed plaintiff's complaint for insufficiency of law upon its face. Plaintiff appealed.
Could a jury find, based on a libel defendant's article implying that plaintiff represented the Communist Party, that the plaintiff was in general sympathy with its objects and methods?
This court reversed and remanded the lower court's decision, holding that, although the words did not say that plaintiff was a member of the Communist Party, they did say that he had acted on its behalf, and that a jury might find that they implied that he was in general sympathy with its objects and methods. Acknowledging that this conclusion did not involve the assumption that the Communist Party would not retain as its representative a person who was not in general accord with its purposes, this court held, further, that the inference was reasonable and was plainly what the author wished readers to draw from his words. The decision of the court dismissing plaintiff's libel complaint for insufficiency in law upon its face was reversed and remanded.