169 Mass. 512 (1897), Haynes v. Clinton Printing Co.

Citation169 Mass. 512, 48 N.E. 275
Opinion JudgeHOLMES, J.
Party NameHAYNES v. CLINTON PRINTING CO.
Attorney[48 N.E. 275] Jonathan Smith and W.S.B. Hopkins, for plaintiff. John W. Corcoran, Walter R. Dame, and William B. Sullivan, for defendant.
Case DateNovember 23, 1897
CourtSupreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts

Page 512

169 Mass. 512 (1897)

48 N.E. 275

HAYNES

v.

CLINTON PRINTING CO.

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Worcester.

November 23, 1897

COUNSEL

[48 N.E. 275] Jonathan

Page 513

Smith and W.S.B. Hopkins, for plaintiff.

John W. Corcoran, Walter R. Dame, and William B. Sullivan, for defendant.

OPINION

HOLMES, J.

A libel does not need the categorical certainty of an indictment at common law. An insinuation may be as actionable as a direct statement, and nothing is better settled than that a defendant cannot escape liability merely by putting the insinuation or statement into the mouth of somebody else. Hurley v. Publishing Co., 138 Mass. 334, 336; Stevens v. Hartwell, 11 Metc. (Mass.) 542, 549, 550; Watkin v. Hall, L.R. 3 Q.B. 396; Odgers, Sland. & L. (2d Ed.) 166, 266, 267, 313. The cases cited by the defendant to show that words of mere suspicion are not actionable are cases of slander, and have but a qualified, if any, application to libel. In libel, it is enough, whatever the form, that the manifest tendency of the words is seriously to hurt the plaintiff's reputation, and the point at which words will be held to have that tendency is reached earlier than in slander. Clark v. Binney, 2 Pick. 113, 116; Tillson v. Robbins, 68 Me. 295; King v. Lake, Hardr. 470; Bradley v. Methwyn, 2 Selw.N.P. (11th Ed.) [48 N.E. 276] 1046; Thorley v. Lord Kerry, 4 Taunt. 355, 3 Camp. 214.

Bearing these general propositions in mind, we have no doubt that the words used in the articles complained of were libelous. That set out in the sixth and ninth counts is headed "Singular Facts," and, referring to the death of one William F. Cohen, says of the plaintiff: "Prominent Citizen of Bolton under Suspicion. Said He Had a Motive if He is Ignorant of the Details of Cohen's Death." "It may be said with assurance that the case will be sensational to a degree. A.S. Haynes [the plaintiff], a prominent citizen, and town clerk of Bolton, it is believed, has fallen under the suspicion of the officers of the law, and, rightly or wrongly, the evidence will tend towards his possible connection with Mr. Cohen's death. It is hardly probable

Page 514

that the government can go so far as to establish any actual guilt of this person so far as the alleged murder is concerned, but it is said it will be shown that at least one man existed with a motive for the crime, whether or not he committed it." It then goes on to allege statements or rumors as to the plaintiff's money relations with Cohen, probably also libelous, but unnecessary to state, which, if true in their suggestion, showed a motive, summing them up with the words "a possible case, if not a very strong one, without the evidence of the government." It ends with the sentence: "There are many who think the government can present no case whatever, as, in the first place, it is doubted if Cohen's death ever can be positively established. So, from the start, the evidence would be wholly circumstantial, and far from conclusive." It will be seen that, although the defendant does not...

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30 practice notes
  • 112 S.W. 474 (Mo. 1908), Frank M. Brown v. George Knapp & Company
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court of Missouri
    • July 14, 1908
    ...539; Arnold v. Saying Co., 76 Mo.App. 159; State ex inf. v. Sheppard, 177 Mo. 244; Shekell v. Jackson, 10 Cush. 25; Haynes v. Press Co., 169 Mass. 512; McDonald v. Woodruff, 2 Dillon 214; 2 Greenleaf on Evidence (16 Ed.), sec. 398; Fitzpatrick v. Publishing Co., 48 La. Ann. 1135. That the n......
  • 145 S.W. 480 (Mo. 1912), Cook v. Pulitzer Publishing Company
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court of Missouri
    • March 21, 1912
    ...charges the person alleged to be defamed with no offense known to the law. Prewitt v. Wilson, 128 Iowa 202; Haynes v. Press Co., 169 Mass. 512; White v. Nichols, 3 How. 266; R. S. 1899, sec. 2259. An article is presumed to be false and published without sufficient excuse until the contrary ......
  • 252 S.W. 428 (Mo. 1923), Clark v. McBaine
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court of Missouri
    • June 8, 1923
    ...Am. & Eng. Ency Law, 1041; Davis v. Shepstone, 11 App. Cas. 187; Burt v. Advertiser Co., 154 Mass. 512; Hays v. Clinton Printing Co., 169 Mass. 512. In Missouri the majority doctrine has been repeatedly affirmed. Walsh v. Publishing Co., 250 Mo. 142; Diener v. Publishing Co., 230 Mo. 61......
  • 140 S.W. 257 (Ark. 1911), Bohlinger v. Germania Life Insurance Company
    • United States
    • Arkansas Supreme Court of Arkansas
    • October 23, 1911
    ...Appellee is liable to the same extent as if it were the sole author of the statements. 18 Am. & Eng. Enc. of L. 1048; Id. 1013-1014; 169 Mass. 512; 25 Cyc. 369; 98 F. 222, 39 C. C. A. 19; Townshend, Slander and Libel, § 158; 6 Cush. 71; 33 Minn. 66-68, 21 N.W. 862; 55 Mich. 224, 21 N.W.......
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30 cases
  • 112 S.W. 474 (Mo. 1908), Frank M. Brown v. George Knapp & Company
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court of Missouri
    • July 14, 1908
    ...539; Arnold v. Saying Co., 76 Mo.App. 159; State ex inf. v. Sheppard, 177 Mo. 244; Shekell v. Jackson, 10 Cush. 25; Haynes v. Press Co., 169 Mass. 512; McDonald v. Woodruff, 2 Dillon 214; 2 Greenleaf on Evidence (16 Ed.), sec. 398; Fitzpatrick v. Publishing Co., 48 La. Ann. 1135. That the n......
  • 145 S.W. 480 (Mo. 1912), Cook v. Pulitzer Publishing Company
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court of Missouri
    • March 21, 1912
    ...charges the person alleged to be defamed with no offense known to the law. Prewitt v. Wilson, 128 Iowa 202; Haynes v. Press Co., 169 Mass. 512; White v. Nichols, 3 How. 266; R. S. 1899, sec. 2259. An article is presumed to be false and published without sufficient excuse until the contrary ......
  • 252 S.W. 428 (Mo. 1923), Clark v. McBaine
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court of Missouri
    • June 8, 1923
    ...Am. & Eng. Ency Law, 1041; Davis v. Shepstone, 11 App. Cas. 187; Burt v. Advertiser Co., 154 Mass. 512; Hays v. Clinton Printing Co., 169 Mass. 512. In Missouri the majority doctrine has been repeatedly affirmed. Walsh v. Publishing Co., 250 Mo. 142; Diener v. Publishing Co., 230 Mo. 61......
  • 140 S.W. 257 (Ark. 1911), Bohlinger v. Germania Life Insurance Company
    • United States
    • Arkansas Supreme Court of Arkansas
    • October 23, 1911
    ...Appellee is liable to the same extent as if it were the sole author of the statements. 18 Am. & Eng. Enc. of L. 1048; Id. 1013-1014; 169 Mass. 512; 25 Cyc. 369; 98 F. 222, 39 C. C. A. 19; Townshend, Slander and Libel, § 158; 6 Cush. 71; 33 Minn. 66-68, 21 N.W. 862; 55 Mich. 224, 21 N.W.......
  • Request a trial to view additional results