February 11, 2014
In the article, “Hoffman Libel Suit to Test if News Media Can Blame Fakers” published in Law360, partner David E. Fink evaluates screenwriter David Katz’s $50 million libel suit against National Enquirer’s parent company, American Media Inc.
On February 5, Mr. Katz filed a libel claim after the tabloid incorrectly identified him as Philip Seymour Hoffman's lover, and falsely quoted him as saying Mr. Hoffman was freebasing cocaine the night before his death. Since the lawsuit was filed, the tabloid has issued a correction and an apology to Mr. Katz, claiming they were duped by a source that misrepresented himself as the plaintiff. Central to this legal battle is whether Mr. Katz’s reputation as a screenwriter is enough to qualify him as a “public figure” for purposes of defamation.
“If I were the Enquirer, I might argue that he is a public figure – and I would have some ammo for that,” said Mr. Fink.