Jack Kauffman Et Al. v. Timothy G. Forsythe Et Al.Annotate this Case
Authoring Judge: Judge W. Neal McBrayer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Justin C. Angel
A property owner shot and injured a trespassing dog. The dog’s owner, a family member, and an unrelated party posted negative comments about the property owner during his campaign for public office. After losing the election, the property owner and his wife sued the three individuals for defamation and false light invasion of privacy. The defendants filed a countercomplaint seeking damages for trespass to chattels, conversion, negligence, and trespass. The trial court dismissed all claims. The court also issued a restraining order enjoining the parties from making public comments about each other. We affirm the trial court’s finding that the property owner was a public figure when the allegedly defamatory statements were published. But because we conclude that the complaint sufficiently alleged actual malice, we reverse the dismissal of the defamation and false light invasion of privacy claims. We further conclude that the countercomplaint stated a cause of action for trespass to chattels, conversion, negligence, and trespass. So we reverse the dismissal of those counterclaims. We also vacate the restraining order.