423 P.2d 421 (N.M. 1966), 8055, Blount v. T D Pub. Corp.

Docket Nº:8055.
Citation:423 P.2d 421, 77 N.M. 384, 1966 -NMSC- 262
Opinion Judge:[10] Hensley
Party Name:Evelyn Dearholt BLOUNT, Individually and as Mother and next friend of Linda Kay Dearholt, John Richard Dearholt, James Dell Dearholt and David Lee Dearholt, Plaintiffs- Appellants, v. T D PUBLISHING CORPORATION, Anthony F. Belmonte, d/b/a Beck News Agency, and MacFadden-Bartell Corporation, Defendants-Appellees.
Attorney:Ben T. Traub, Robert C. Hanna, Joseph H. Mercer, Albuquerque, for appellants., Rodey, Dickason, Sloan, Akin & Robb, William C. Briggs, Albuquerque, for appellees. [7] BEN T. TRAUB, ROBERT C. HANNA, JOSEPH H. MERCER, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Attorneys for Appellant. [8] RODEY, DICKASON, SLOAN, AK...
Case Date:December 12, 1966
Court:Supreme Court of New Mexico
 
FREE EXCERPT

Page 421

423 P.2d 421 (N.M. 1966)

77 N.M. 384, 1966 -NMSC- 262

Evelyn Dearholt BLOUNT, Individually and as Mother and next

friend of Linda Kay Dearholt, John Richard

Dearholt, James Dell Dearholt and David

Lee Dearholt,

Plaintiffs-

Appellants,

v.

T D PUBLISHING CORPORATION, Anthony F. Belmonte, d/b/a Beck

News Agency, and MacFadden-Bartell Corporation,

Defendants-Appellees.

No. 8055.

Supreme Court of New Mexico.

December 12, 1966

Rehearing Denied Feb. 13, 1967.

[77 N.M. 386]

Page 422

Ben T. Traub, Robert C. Hanna, Joseph H. Mercer, Albuquerque, for appellants.

Rodey, Dickason, Sloan, Akin & Robb, William C. Briggs, Albuquerque, for appellees.

OPINION

HENSLEY, Chief Judge, Court of Appeals.

This is a civil action brought by a widow and her four children against three defendants alleging an unlawful invasion of privacy. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant Anthony F. Belmonte, doing business as Beck News Agency, and dismissed the complaint against the corporate defendants for want of jurisdiction. From the summary judgment and the order quashing service of summons and dismissing the complaint the plaintiffs now appeal.

Page 423

The defendant T D Publishing Corporation, a New York corporation, publishes books and magazines, one of which is a magazine entitled 'Official Detective Stories.' The defendant MacFadden-Bartell Corporation, is a Delaware corporation with its principal office in the State of New York. In March, 1965, the magazine 'Official Detective Stories' printed an article entitled 'Homicide On Top Of The World.' The article reconstructed in detail the circumstances and events surrounding the murder of the plaintiff's husband which occurred approximately ten months prior to the publication. The T D Publishing Corporation sold the magazine to [77 N.M. 387] MacFadden-Bartell Corporation. MacFadden-Bartell Corporation then re-sold the magazines to wholesale distributors in New Mexico and other states, including the defendant Beck News Agency, a New Mexico wholesale distributor. The defendants T D Publishing Corporation and MacFadden-Bartell Corporation have no offices, employees, or agents in New Mexico.

The Beck News Agency filed its answer alleging that the matters contained in the article were of public interest and therefore privileged. Further, the Beck News Agency affirmatively alleged that it was only a distributor of the magazine and had no knowledge of any contents that would cause it to believe that the right of privacy of any person was being invaded. The defendant Beck News Agency in its affidavit in support of its motion for summary judgment denied knowledge of the contents of the article in question prior to distribution. The plaintiff's amended complaint did not allege knowledge on the part of the defendant Beck News Agency, nor was any affidavit filed in response to the defendant's motion for summary judgment.

The basic question presented by this appeal is the propriety of summary judgment. To reach the answer we must determine whether or not the article was privileged as a matter of law, or whether the defense of privilege raised a question of fact. If it is determined that privilege in this case is a question of fact then we must next determine if lack of knowledge, or ignorance of the contents of the article, was a defense as a matter of law.

In approaching the problem we are mindful of the constitutional protection of freedom of the press. We acknowledge the right of the public to be informed. The right of privacy of the individual was recognized by this court in Hubbard v. Journal Publishing Company, 69 N.M. 473, 368 P.2d 147. The constitutional protection of the freedom of the press must also be read in connection with U.S. Const. amend. IV. The framers of our constitution, federal and state, were cognizant of the right of an individual to privacy and sought to prevent unreasonable intrusion, Trupiano v. United States, 334 U.S. 699, 68 S.Ct. 1229, 92 L.Ed. 1663.

Here...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP