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Etheredge-Brown v. American Media Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. New York

March 31, 2014

ALICIA ETHEREDGE-BROWN and ROBERT BROWN, Plaintiffs,
v.
AMERICAN MEDIA, INC., and DERRICK HANDSPIKE, Defendants

For Alicia Etheridge-Brown, Robert Brown, Plaintiffs: Christopher Lloyd Brown, Brown & Rosen LLC, Boston, MA.

For America Media, Inc., Defendant: Cameron Altman Stracher, LEAD ATTORNEY, Cameron A. Stracher Attorney At Law, New York, NY; David A.. Schulz, Levine, Sullivan, Koch & Schulz, LLP(NYC), New York, NY; Julia Catherine Atcherley, Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz, New York, NY.

OPINION

Page 304

OPINION AND ORDER

J. PAUL OETKEN, United States District Judge.

This is a defamation action filed by Bobby Brown (" Brown" ) and his wife, Alicia Etheredge (" Etheredge" ), arising from an article published by the National Enquirer in March 2012, shortly after the death of Whitney Houston (" Houston" ). The article contained statements asserting that Brown and Houston had reestablished an intimate relationship before her death and were planning to re-marry. The lawsuit names as defendants American Media, Inc. (" AMI" ), which owns and operates the National Enquirer, and Derrick Handspike (" Handspike" ), an individual who is quoted in the article.

Defendant AMI has filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that this lawsuit is time-barred under the one-year statute of limitations applicable to defamation claims. For the reasons that follow, AMI's motion is denied.

I. Discussion

A. Jurisdiction

Subject matter jurisdiction of this action is based on diversity of citizenship pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). The complaint alleges that Plaintiffs are residents of the State of California; that Defendant AMI " has a business address" in New York; and that Defendant Handspike is a resident of Georgia. The Court assumes that the allegations intend to state that AMI's principal place of business is in New York. The complaint does not allege in which state AMI is incorporated. Assuming that it is not incorporated in California, there appears to be complete diversity for purposes of § 1332(a)(1). Plaintiffs request an award of damages " in excess of one million dollars," and therefore the amount-in-controversy requirement is satisfied.

B. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment is appropriate when " there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56. A fact is material if it " might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law," Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986), and a dispute is

Page 305

genuine if, considering the record as a whole, a rational jury could find in favor of the non-moving party, Ricci v. DeStefano, 557 U.S. 557, 586, 129 S.Ct. 2658, 174 L.Ed.2d 490 (2009) (citing Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio ...


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