Pl - Lega
Siciliana Social Club
Df - St.
This case is
a review of motion of summary judgment.
There was a
social club close to a residential neighborhood whose membership
only extended to Sicilians or natural born Americans of Sicilian
received a liquor license 5 year after the opening of the club.
of the liquor license led to increased traffic and noise, which
adversely affected the residents by destroying the privacy,
seclusion and quiet character of their residential community.
the President of the Board of Aldermen
dissatisfaction with the increased traffic and noise that he
believed stemmed from club activities and the granting of the
members with political connections in both state and local.
connections to rubber stamp whatever they want.
having someone setting our house on fire..
motion for summary judgment on the ground that the allegedly
defamatory statement did NOT constitute libel per se.
further concluded that because the statements were not libelous
per se, to prevail, the plaintiff had to show "cognizable damage
or harm" to its reputation to survive a motion for summary
concluded that the plaintiff had shown no "cognizable damage or
harm" as a consequence of the defendant's allegedly libelous
of the torts of libel and slander.
injure reputation, diminish the esteem, respect, goodwill or
confidence in which the plaintiff is held, or to excite adverse,
derogatory, or unpleasant feelings or opinions against him.
(which we are concerned with in the present case)
A libel per
quod is not libelous on the
face of the communication, but
becomes libelous in
light of extrinsic facts known by the recipient of the
plaintiff brings an action in libel per quod,
he must plead and prove actual
damages in order to recover
Libel per se
Libel per se
is a libel on the face of the
statement and is actionable
without proof of actual damages.
between Libel per se and Libel per quod
A Pl may
recover general damages where the defamation in question
constitutes libel per se.
defamatory words are actionable per se, the law conclusively
presumes the existence of injury to the plaintiff's reputation.
required neither to plead nor to prove it.
individual plaintiff is entitled to recover, as
general damages, for the
injury to his (1)
reputation and for the humiliation and
(2) mental suffering
which the libel caused him.
publication is libelous per se
is a question for the court.
In This Case
Pl has not
show actual economic damages.
prove that the Df - statements constitute libel per se.
Two of the
general classes of libel
(generally recognized, are actionable per se)
charging crimes and
injure a man in his profession and calling. . . .
within the category of libels that are actionable per se
because they charge crime,
the libel must be one which charges a crime which
involves moral turpitude
or to which an infamous penalty is attached."
turpitude involves an act of inherent baseness, vileness or
depravity in the private and social duties which man does to his
fellow man or to society in general, contrary to the accepted
rule of right and duty between man and law.
Ex: Hitting lady over the head with a purse.
in the community has been damaged as a consequence of defamatory
statements contained in the subject letter.
plaintiff's claim is based largely on the defendant's assertion
in the letter that the club has "political connections in both
state and local, to Mafia connections to rubber stamp whatever
generally is known to be involved in criminal activities such as
bribery, illegal gambling, manufacturing of narcotics and other
crimes, many of which involve moral turpitude and are punishable
Claim Letter when beyond suggesting
that the plaintiff uses its Mafia connections to "rubber stamp
whatever [it] want[s].
utilizes illegal tactics to get whatever its wants.
with the plaintiff that the allegedly defamatory statement is of
the type that will "diminish the esteem, respect, goodwill or
confidence in which the plaintiff is held, or to
excite adverse, derogatory, or
unpleasant feelings or opinions against [it].
statement linking the plaintiff to the Mafia
was libelous per se and,
consequently, that the plaintiff was
required neither to plead nor to prove actual
Summary Judgment and the case is remanded