Sue for Defamation!: a response to a hypothetical

Oct 17, 2017

Megan Dell'Amico, Pepperdine student

After my friend tweets some racist and sexual things about the restaurant staff on our PEP twitter account, creating a bad name for PEP as racist and sexist bigots, I would sue. The idea that one person, specifically in charge on the twitter account, is the sole reason for these new accusations of the PEP student organization resulting in me losing me losing my job and backup offer job, I would take the action towards PEP, the student organization.

In the case of Neiman-Marcus v. Lait, the issues were whether a designated group of individuals could sue for defamation when less than all the designated groups are defamed. In this instance, the group defamed is too large where none can sue even though the language used is inclusive. The argument in our case, to have merit, is that our PEP student organization is small and can be referred. Since my friend is specifically positioned as the author of the PEP twitter account, we could have the ability in naming the source and remove generalizations against the organization. The twitter post would have to be more deeply looked at as if they generalized the racist and sexist post by including all or more specific messages as if it was not just a PEP student organization thought. According to the restatement of Torts 564 ©, even when a group is larger, a member of the group may have a cause of action if some circumstance point to the accuser as the person defamed.

By going against PEP instead of the PeR, the PR firm, or LMYou, the fallback job, it would allow my name to be cleared. If I were either PeR and LMYou, I would not want a racist or sexist bigot apart of my PR team due to the bad brand image. Instead, by suing PEP, it gives me the opportunity to reclaim the strong brand image of PEP and have the potential to land a position back at PeR or even LMyou.

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Megan Dell'Amico, a student in Jon Pfeiffer's Fall 2017 Media Law class at Pepperdine University, wrote the above essay in response to the prompt:

You are an active member of a student organization called PEP and are currently the top candidate to land a position at PeR, a cutting-edge PR firm in Santa Monica, after graduation. Your friend who runs the PEP twitter account hits Margarita Monday too hard and tweets some very racist and sexual things about the restaurant staff. Very scandalous. In the morning, the tweets are picked up by Dine., a magazine that caters to all things food and drink in LA. The story goes viral and people start referring to PEP and its members as racist, sexist bigots. All of a sudden, PeR gives you the cold shoulder. Not only PeR, but also your fall back job, LMYou, shut you down.

Should you sue? Who? Would your case have merit?


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