News Error Protected by Fair-Report Privilege

     (CN) – A newspaper didn’t defame an Illinois woman by printing that she’d been arrested for theft and attempted obstruction of justice, an Illinois appeals court ruled, because the paper had relied on an official police report that was corrected after publication.




     Carolene A. Eubanks sued Northwest Herald Newspapers for defamation and invasion of privacy, claiming she was falsely linked to the crimes.
     Her name appeared in an email that the newspaper received from the Lake of the Hills police department. The email stated that Eubanks was charged with the crime, and the newspaper published that information.
     After the article went to press, the paper received another email correcting the first one. That email stated that another woman’s name should have been in Eubanks’ place. The newspaper printed a retraction.
     The trial court ruled for the newspaper, and Eubanks appealed, claiming the court had incorrectly applied the fair-report privilege to the article. She said the publication was not an “accurate and complete” report from the police department, because the newspaper only printed information from the first article.
     But the 2nd District Appellate Court in Elgin, Ill., pointed out that the report was accurate at the time of publication.
     “Defendant did not abuse the fair-report privilege, because the publication at issue was an accurate summary of the first email received from the Lake of the Hills police department,” Judge Mary Seminara-Schostok wrote.

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