Mark Shoen v. Dr. Samuel Shoen, 2012COA207 (November 21, 2012)

“[T]here is great general interest among television viewers in fascinating true stories with interesting characters and real life dramas … this case certainly has those elements.” A producer of a TV episode called Tragedy in Telluride said that about the facts of this case. In that episode, Sam Shoen implied his brother Mark Shoen, both part of the U-Haul family, was involved in the murder of Sam’s wife. Mark sued Sam for defamation and lost. The court of appeals first held that Mark waived a choice-of-law issue that Colorado defamation law should not apply because the issue was not raised prior to the trial court ruling on dispositive motions. Second, it held that Sam’s statements on TV about the murder of his wife, including criticizing the adequacy of the investigation, were matters of public concern, and thus Mark was required to prove defamation by clear and convincing evidence.

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