David C. Vogel


In Moldea v. New York Times Co., the District of Columbia Court of Appeals attempted to determine under what circumstances a statement labeled as opinion may be the basis for a defamation suit. The court approached the topic with some difficulty, as the United States Supreme Court's 1990 decision in Milkovich v. Lorain Journal Co. had created confusion in lower courts over not only the validity of several traditional tests used to distinguish between fact and opinion, but also as to whether placing statements in an opinion context provides them with blanket protection from liability, regardless of their content. The three-judge panel deciding the case demonstrated the evolving nature of this facet of defamation law when it reversed itself less than three months after an earlier decision in the same matter.

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