Ordinary Oregonians Have Lesser First Amendment Rights Than the Institutional Media Do
So the Oregon Court of Appeals reaffirmed in yesterday’s Lowell v. Wright decision:
Plaintiff Lowell, the owner of a piano store, brought this defamation action against defendant Wright, an individual, and defendant Artistic Piano, a competitor piano store for whom Wright works, after Wright posted a negative Google review about plaintiff’s business….
The court concluded that the review was speech on a matter of public concern, but about a private figure, and that some statements in the review were factual assertions and not just opinion; and this would generally mean that,
Under Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc. (1974), when the plaintiff in a defamation action is a private party (not a public official or public figure), the First Amendment limits the plaintiff’s recovery of presumed or punitive damages to situations in which the plaintiff proves that the defendant acted with “actual malice” … [—]knew that the statements were false or acted with reckless disregard of whether they were false….
But not in cases where the speakers are ordinary citizens:
The Oregon Supreme Court has expressly held that the First Amendment limitations in Gertz apply only in defamation actions brought by private parties against media defendants. Harley-Davidson v. Markley (Or. 1977); Wheeler v. Green (Or. 1979) (“Alt
Article from Latest – Reason.com