2021 Georgia Code
Title 51 - Torts
Chapter 5 - Libel and Slander
§ 51-5-11. Admissibility of Evidence in Libel Action Concerning Correction and Retraction; Effect Thereof on Damages
- In any civil action for libel which charges the publication of an erroneous statement alleged to be libelous, it shall be relevant and competent evidence for either party to prove that the plaintiff requested retraction in writing at least seven days prior to the filing of the action or omitted to request retraction in this manner.
- In any such action, the defendant may allege and give proof of the following matters, as applicable:
- That the matter alleged to have been published and to be libelous was published without malice;
- That the defendant, in a regular issue of the newspaper or other publication in question, within seven days after receiving written demand, or in the next regular issue of the newspaper or other publication following receipt of the demand if the next regular issue was not published within seven days after receiving the demand, corrected and retracted the allegedly libelous statement in as conspicuous and public a manner as that in which the alleged libelous statement was published; and
- That, if the plaintiff so requested, the retraction and correction were accompanied, in the same issue, by an editorial in which the allegedly libelous statement was specifically repudiated; or
- That no request for correction and retraction was made in writing by the plaintiff.
- Upon proof of the facts specified in paragraph (1) or (2) of subsection (b) of this Code section, the plaintiff shall not be entitled to any punitive damages and the defendant shall be liable only to pay actual damages. The defendant may plead the publication of the correction, retraction, or explanation, including the editorial, if demanded, in mitigation of damages.
(Ga. L. 1958, p. 54, § 1; Ga. L. 1960, p. 198, § 1; Ga. L. 1986, p. 272, § 1.)Law reviews.
- For comment, "Room for Error Online: Revising Georgia's Retraction Statute to Accommodate the Rise of Internet Media," see 28 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 923 (2012).JUDICIAL DECISIONS
"Publication," as used in O.C.G.A. § 51-5-11(b), means a communication made to any person other than the party libeled. Mathis v. Cannon, 276 Ga. 16, 573 S.E.2d 376 (2002).
Verdict awarding general damages in a libel suit filed by an attorney against a former client, which showed that the client published facts intimating that the attorney bribed judges, contrary to O.C.G.A. § 16-10-2, was upheld as: (1) the jury could reasonably conclude that the attorney was a limited public figure, and was properly charged on that issue; (2) the client failed to seek any remedy regarding the verdict entered; (3) the trial court did not err in prohibiting the client from offering testimony about corrupt individuals who were exposed as a result of the publication about the attorney; and (4) based on the evidence of the publication, on the client's web site neither a directed verdict or judgment notwithstanding the verdict in the client's favor was authorized. Milum v. Banks, 283 Ga. App. 864, 642 S.E.2d 892 (2007).Statements made in radio talk show.
- O.C.G.A. § 51-5-11 is clearly inapplicable to defamatory statements made in a radio talk show, it being clear, giving the words "newspaper or other publication" their ordinary signification, that the General Assembly intended that the section apply exclusively to the printed media. Williamson v. Lucas, 171 Ga. App. 695, 320 S.E.2d 800 (1984).Subsection (c) applies only to libel.
- The retraction provisions of subsection (c) of O.C.G.A. § 51-5-11 apply only to libel actions, that is, actions against a publisher, and not to any case based on an alleged slanderous statement made by a defendant to a newspaper reporter. Van Geter v. Housing Auth., 167 Ga. App. 432, 306 S.E.2d 707 (1983), aff'd, 252 Ga. 196, 312 S.E.2d 309 (1984).
Plain language of O.C.G.A. § 51-5-11 stated that the section is applicable only to any civil action for libel; a trial court erred by barring punitive damages arising from a claim of tortious interference with business relations based on O.C.G.A. § 51-5-11. U.S. Micro Corp. v. Atlantix Global Sys., LLC, 278 Ga. App. 599, 630 S.E.2d 416 (2006).Failure to request retraction on Internet bulletin board posting.
- Georgia's retraction statute, O.C.G.A. § 51-5-11, applies to libel actions involving publications on an Internet bulletin board; thus, since a limited-purpose public figure failed to request a retraction, although the public figure asked the Internet service provider to delete the messages, the public figure was precluded from obtaining punitive damages. Mathis v. Cannon, 276 Ga. 16, 573 S.E.2d 376 (2002).Failure to request charge on retraction.
- When, in a defamation action, the defendants failed to submit to the trial court a charge based on subsection (c) of O.C.G.A. § 51-5-11, they may not question on appeal the trial court's failure to give a charge on retraction, in view of O.C.G.A. § 5-5-24(b). Williamson v. Lucas, 166 Ga. App. 403, 304 S.E.2d 412 (1983).
Cited in Fuqua Television, Inc. v. Fleming, 134 Ga. App. 731, 215 S.E.2d 694 (1975); Jones v. Neighbor Newspapers, Inc., 142 Ga. App. 365, 236 S.E.2d 23 (1977); Stange v. Cox Enters., Inc., 211 Ga. App. 731, 440 S.E.2d 503 (1994); Schafer v. Time, Inc., 142 F.3d 1361 (11th Cir. 1998); No Witness, LLC v. Cumulus Media Partners, LLC, F. Supp. 2d (N.D. Ga. Nov. 13, 2007).
Am. Jur. 2d.
- 50 Am. Jur. 2d, Libel and Slander, §§ 319 et seq., 383, 456 et seq., 471 et seq.ALR.
- Retraction as affecting right of action or amount of damages for libel or slander, 13 A.L.R. 794.
Libel and slander: who is protected by statute restricting recovery unless retraction is demanded, 84 A.L.R.3d 1249.
Individual and corporate liability for libel and slander in electronic communications, including e-mail, internet and websites, 3 A.L.R.6th 153.