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Media Defamation Suit Won’t Go to High Court

(CN) - The Supreme Court on Monday refused to review a ruling that shields journalists from defamation suits when they accurately report from court filings.

Thomas John Salzano, the son of the owner of bankrupt telecommunications firm NorVergence, sued North Jersey Media Group for printing an article stating that he "allegedly stole close to $500,000 from the company, using the money to pay for drinks, trips to area clubs and for a five-bedroom Glen Ridge house."

Salzano said the allegations in the underlying federal bankruptcy complaint against him stated only that he had "unlawfully diverted, converted and misappropriated" NorVergence's funds "for his own personal benefit."

The New Jersey Superior Court had dismissed the case since the article was faithful to the original complaint, but the state appeals court revived the defamation suit, finding that journalists only enjoy privilege when quoting from court decisions, not lawsuits.

The state Supreme Court then reversed that decision in May 2010, noting that the press serves an important role for public interest by reporting on new filings and developments.

In declining to take up the appeal, the nation's highest court did not issue any comment.

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