Rubin v. CBS Broadcasting, 2017 Pa. Super. 292 (September 8, 2017).
Former school police officer sued CBS for defamation and false light invasion of privacy following an evening news broadcast stating that Rubin had been terminated because of allegations of child sexual abuse, a report which was retracted the following day, with an apology noted.
CBS responded by producing a termination letter which indicated that serious allegations had been raised against Rubin.
The Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas entered judgment for CBS, opining that Rubin could neither establish the falsity of the report or that CBS acted with negligence or actual malice, proof of both of which were necessary for proceedings against a media defendant.
Not so fast, the reviewing court concluded. It had not been established what CBS knew at the time of publication or CBS’s sources; the termination letter itself was not entirely supportive of the CBS report. Without factual development, it could not be concluded as a matter of law that CBS could not be found to have acted with negligence or actual malice. The order in favor of CBS has been vacated and the case remanded for further proceedings.