Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Eugene Volokh

Libel Lawsuit Prompts Correction

Mediaite (Jamie Frevele), "New York Times Issues Lengthy Correction After Kai Spears' Defamation Lawsuit," reports; here's the correction, from the Times site (posted Saturday):

An article on March 16 about a fatal shooting that involved members of the University of Alabama basketball team misidentified the person who was in the car with one player, Brandon Miller, when the shooting occurred.

Based on information from a person familiar with the case, the article erroneously identified that person as Kai Spears, a freshman basketball player. After the article was initially published, Alabama's athletic director and Spears's father denied that Spears was present. The Times included those responses and reviewed its reporting, but did not conclude that any other change to the article was warranted at that time.

On Wednesday, Spears filed a defamation suit against The Times that included new details about the incident. Based on that information, editors assigned further reporting, which determined that the other person at the scene was not Spears but Cooper Lee, a student manager for the team. The Times regrets the error in the initial report.

The online version of the article has been revised to remove the erroneous information; the latest updates appear today on Page B8.

You can also see the Complaint, and the supporting affidavit. Note that, under Alabama law (which may apply here, though the matter isn't certain),

The defendant in an action of slander or libel may prove under a general denial in mitigation of damages that the charge was made in good faith by mistake or through inadvertence or misapprehension, and that he has retracted the charge in the same medium of publication as the charge was originally promulgated and in a prominent position therein.

This might help the Times, if the correction was also published in print.

Of course, the New York Times might be able to avoid liability on other grounds, for instance

  1. that Kai Spears is a public figure and the Times didn't write the article with "actual malice" (i.e., knowing the statement was false or likely false); or
  2. that even if Spears is a private figure, the publication was on a matter of public concern and Spears couldn't prove any actual damages (a private figure may recover only actual damages on a showing of negligence, and must show "actual malice" to recover presumed or punitive damages); or
  3. that New York law applies, and it requires a showing of "actual malice" as to all statements on matters of public concern.

But a retraction may still be helpful, just in case—and of course publishing such a retraction is the ethical thing to do.

The post Libel Lawsuit Prompts Correction appeared first on

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.