Hubbard v. Furman Univ.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtWOODS
Citation76 S.C. 510,57 S.E. 478
Decision Date09 April 1907
PartiesHUBBARD v. FURMAN UNIVERSITY.

57 S.E. 478
76 S.C. 510

HUBBARD
v.
FURMAN UNIVERSITY.

Supreme Court of South Carolina.

April 9, 1907.


1. Libel—Question for Jury.

Where the meaning of words used in a circular is doubtful, the question whether they are libelous was for the jury.

[Ed. Note.—For cases in point, see Cent. Dig. vol. 32, Libel and Slander, §§ 358-361.]

2. Same—Pleading.

Where a publication is not libelous per se, malicious purpose to injure the plaintiff is not enough without an allegation that it effected the evil purpose by conveying to those to whom the publication was sent a charge injuriously affecting the character or business of the plaintiff.

[Ed. Note.—For cases in point, see Cent. Dig. vol. 32, Libel and Slander, §§ 212, 213.]

3. Same—Alleged Libelous Matter.

Where plaintiff, who had been a director of music in a college, voluntarily resigned and opened a music school of his own, a publication issued by the college announcing the change, and stating that it was made for the good of the department and in the interest of the patrons of the college, was not libelous per se.

[Ed. Note.—For cases in point, see Cent. Dig. vol. 32, Libel and Slander, § 97.]

Appeal from Common Pleas Circuit Court of Greenville County; Watts, Judge.

Action by Louis M. Hubbard against the Furman University. From an order sustaining a demurrer, plaintiff appeals. Affirmed.

D. Lewis Dorroh, for appellant.

B. M. Shuman and Haynsworth & Patterson, for respondent

WOODS, J. This action was brought to recover damages for certain publications of the defendant alleged to be defamatory of the plaintiff and injurious to his reputation and business as head of a music school. The circuit court sustained a demurrer to the complaint, on the ground that it failed to state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action, in that the publications attributed to the defendant were not defamatory or libelous. The exceptions in varying terms assign error in this conclusion.

The definition of libel as adopted in Smith v. Bradstreet Company, 63 S. C. 525, 530, 41 S. E. 763, 764, is as follows: "A libel is malicious defamation, expressed either by writing or printing, or by signs, pictures, effigies, or the like, tending to blacken the memory of one who is dead, or to impeach the honesty or integrity or reputation, or publish the natural or alleged defects, of one who is alive, and thereby to expose him to public hatred, contempt, ridicule, or obloquy, or to cause him to be shunned or avoided, or to injure him in his office, business, or occupation." For the purpose of relieving pleadings in libel cases from one of the rigid technical rules controlling them, the following provision was incorporated in the Code of Civil Procedure as section 185: "In an action for libel or slander, it shall not be necessary to state, in the complaint, any extrinsic facts, for the purpose of showing the application to the plaintiff of the defamatory matter out of which the cause of action arose; but it shall be sufficient to state generally that the same was published or spoken concerning the plaintiff; and if such allegation be controverted, the plaintiff shall be bound to establish, on trial, that it was so published or spoken." Before this law was enacted, when the alleged libel did not mention the name of the plaintiff, it was necessary to state the extrinsic facts leading to the conclusion that the defamatory matter was applied to him. The change, however, does not obviate the necessity of setting out the facts which make language, not in itself defamatory, have that import. The rule as thus stated in 13 Ency. P. & P. 32 is univer-

[57 S.E. 479]

sally recognized: "If the alleged defamatory words are not actionable on their face, but derive their defamatory import from extrinsic facts and circumstances, such extrinsic facts and circumstances must be set forth and connected with the words charged by a proper averment." Power v. Miller, 2 McCord, 220; Ashbell v. Witt, 2 Nott & McC. 364. In Wilson v. Hamilton, 9 Rich. Law, 382, it is said: "When the defamatory paper shows clearly what is meant, and of whom it is written, it is unnecessary to allege new matter by way of inducement in the introductory part of the declaration; but where the paper is sp ambiguous in its language that, form a perusal of it, the person alluded to cannot be ascertained, or where the libelous purpose is not manifest, a colloquium and averment are necessary to explain the meaning." Chief Justice Shaw thus states the principle in Carter v. Andrews, 16 Pick. (Mass.) 1, 6: "If the words have the slanderous meaning alleged, not by their own intrinsic force, but by reason of the existence of some extraneous fact, the plaintiff must undertake to prove that fact and the defendant must be at liberty to disprove it. The fact then must be averred in a traversable form, with a proper colloquium, to wit, an averment that the words in question are spoken of and concerning such usage, or report, or fact, whatever it is, which gives to words, otherwise...

To continue reading

Request your trial
20 practice notes
  • Duncan v. Record Pub. Co, (No. 12275.)
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • September 21, 1927
    ...That statement is in substantial accord with the law as stated and applied by this court in several cases (Hubbard v. Furman University, 76 S. C. 510, 57 S. E. 478; Black v. State Co., 93 S. C. 475, 476, 77 S. E. 51, Ann. Cas. 1914C, 989; Nunnamaker v. Smith's, 96 S. C. 294, 80 S. E. 465), ......
  • Jenkins v. Southern Ry. Co, (No. 11630.)
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • December 13, 1924
    ...circumstances attending the publication, including the sense in which the witnesses understood the words." See, also, Hubbard v. Furman, 76 S. C. 510, 57 S. E. 478. As to the second question: It appears beyond controversy that the alleged slander, if committed, was committed by the agent in......
  • Bell v. Mill, (No. 11556.)
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • January 9, 1924
    ...of the words used, coupled with the inducement, the innuendo cannot enlarge, extend, or change. 17 R. C. L. 393; Hubbard v. University, 76 S. C. 510, 57 S. E. 478. By section 425, Code Civ. Proc. 1922, the colloquium, as above explained, is no longer necessary; but the inducement and the in......
  • Holmes v. Curtis Publishing Company, Civ. A. No. 67-531.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • March 7, 1969
    ...to render him odious, contemptible, or ridiculous, are actionable per se." Citations omitted. Likewise, from Hubbard v. Furman University, 76 S.C. 510, 57 S.E. 478 "A libel is a malicious defamation, * * * tending * * * to impeach the honesty or integrity or reputation, or publish the natur......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
20 cases
  • Duncan v. Record Pub. Co, (No. 12275.)
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • September 21, 1927
    ...That statement is in substantial accord with the law as stated and applied by this court in several cases (Hubbard v. Furman University, 76 S. C. 510, 57 S. E. 478; Black v. State Co., 93 S. C. 475, 476, 77 S. E. 51, Ann. Cas. 1914C, 989; Nunnamaker v. Smith's, 96 S. C. 294, 80 S. E. 465), ......
  • Jenkins v. Southern Ry. Co, (No. 11630.)
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • December 13, 1924
    ...circumstances attending the publication, including the sense in which the witnesses understood the words." See, also, Hubbard v. Furman, 76 S. C. 510, 57 S. E. 478. As to the second question: It appears beyond controversy that the alleged slander, if committed, was committed by the agent in......
  • Bell v. Mill, (No. 11556.)
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • January 9, 1924
    ...of the words used, coupled with the inducement, the innuendo cannot enlarge, extend, or change. 17 R. C. L. 393; Hubbard v. University, 76 S. C. 510, 57 S. E. 478. By section 425, Code Civ. Proc. 1922, the colloquium, as above explained, is no longer necessary; but the inducement and the in......
  • Holmes v. Curtis Publishing Company, Civ. A. No. 67-531.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • March 7, 1969
    ...to render him odious, contemptible, or ridiculous, are actionable per se." Citations omitted. Likewise, from Hubbard v. Furman University, 76 S.C. 510, 57 S.E. 478 "A libel is a malicious defamation, * * * tending * * * to impeach the honesty or integrity or reputation, or publish the natur......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT