Hanson v. Globe Newspaper Co.

159 Mass. 293, 34 N.E. 462 (1893)

 

RULE:

In a suit for libel or slander, it is always necessary for the plaintiff to allege and prove that the words were spoken or written of and concerning the plaintiff.

FACTS:

Plaintiff alleged that the newspaper was guilty of libel for publishing the story of the prisoner using plaintiff's name, which was identical to the prisoner's except that the prisoner initials were A.P.H. and plaintiff's initials were P.H. The newspaper failed to include the prisoner's initial A. in the newspaper article. The lower court found that the alleged libel was not published by the newspaper of or concerning the plaintiff. 

ISSUE:

Can the plaintiff recover damages for libel from the newspaper which has published an article about a prisoner whose name is the same as that of the plaintiff?

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

The Court held that plaintiff failed to carry the burden of proving that the words were spoken or written of and concerning the plaintiff. The court held that because the evidence showed that the words were published of and concerning the prisoner, the finding that they were not published of the plaintiff followed of necessity. Plaintiff could not recover damages for a libel merely because of his misfortune of having a name like that of the person written about.

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