Michele Fry v. Kurtis Lee and The Denver Post, LLC, 2013COA100 (June 20, 2013)

“Denver city council candidate [Fry] caught up in plagiarism charge.” That headline landed The Denver Post in court for defamation. It started with a questionnaire answered by a Denver City Council candidate that appeared to be plagiarized. The candidate, upon reviewing the Post’s information, agreed, confessed, contacted the person from whom she took her responses and apologized. Afterwards, the Post ran the headline. Buried deep in the article, it quoted Fry: “I would never intentionally lift from another source and should have been more careful.” The district court found that the article was not false simply because it omitted the fact that Fry admitted her mistake. The court of appeals conducted a detailed exegesis of the article and agreed with the trial court. It held that an average reader would not conclude that ‘caught up’ and ‘charge’ suggested a crime. Case dismissed.



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