A corporation, while having no reputation in a personal sense, does have prestige and position in the business in which it is engaged which are capable of being damaged by defamatory language. Special damage must be alleged unless the language is of so defamatory a nature as to directly affect credit and to occasion pecuniary injury.
Defendants published a book which named plaintiff's company as a company that mostly hired homosexuals and prostitutes. However, the book did not name any particular employees. The employees and the corporation both sued the defendants, and the defendants moved to dismiss both suits.
Could plaintiffs maintain libel suits against the defendants, arising out of the publishing of defendants' book?
Yes and No.
In ruling on the motions, the court granted the motion with regard to dismissing the employees' complaint, but sustained the corporation's complaint. The court found that there was no allegation in the complaint concerning the point of origination or state of first publication of the book in question. In addition, all of the named individual plaintiffs were alleged to be citizens of Texas, and were not presumably persons of national prominence who might suffer damage elsewhere. Further, the complaint failed to indicate membership in the libeled groups of plaintiff employees named at the time the cause of action was alleged to have arisen. It also failed to disclose the numerical size of these groups at such time. However, plaintiff company's complaint was found to have properly alleged a claim for damages resulting from such defamation.