Dallas Morning News, Inc. v. Tatum (Unanimous)Annotate this Case
In this libel-by-implication case, a column written by Steve Blow and published by The Dallas Morning News (collectively, Petitioners) was reasonably capable of meaning that John and Mary Ann Tatum acted deceptively and that the accusation of deception was reasonably capable of defaming the Tatums. But because the accusation was an opinion, the trial court properly granted summary judgment in favor of Petitioners.
The Tatum filed suit alleging libel and libel per se against Petitioners alleging that the column at issue defamed them. The trial court granted summary judgment for Petitioners. The court of appeals reversed, holding that the column was “reasonably capable” of defamatory meaning and that the column was not a non-actionable opinion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the column’s accusation of deception was “reasonably capable” of injuring the Tatums’ standing in the community but that Blow’s implicit statement that the Tatum acted deceptively was an opinion and thus not actionable.