The opinion of the court was delivered by: WALSH
This matter originally came before this Court on a Motion for Summary Judgment filed on behalf of defendant The Washington Post Company, and also on a Motion to Strike the opposition of plaintiff thereto. The Court denied both motions on March 25, 1965.
Thereafter, on March 29, 1965, defendant Washington Post filed a Motion to Reconsider Denial of Summary Judgment; and defendant Drew Pearson filed a Motion to Reconsider Order of March 25, 1965. Plaintiff filed a Motion to Strike the motion of defendant Pearson. On June 21, 1965, the Court heard argument on all of said motions and the same were submitted.
This is a libel action. Plaintiff is a Member of Congress from the State of New York. Defendant Washington Post is the publisher of a daily and Sunday newspaper in the District of Columbia. Defendant Pearson is a Columnist, whose column, "The Washington Merry-Go-Round", is widely syndicated by Bell Syndicate, Inc., originally a co-defendant in this action. The Washington Post publishes the Pearson column.
The complaint alleges defendant Washington Post published certain syndicated columns written by defendant Pearson which contained false and defamatory matter which has libeled the plaintiff, and that defendant did so maliciously and with intent to injure the plaintiff. Plaintiff alleges that defendant Washington Post, in publishing the particular columns of defendant Pearson, was grossly negligent and reckless, in view of the nature of the defamatory matter and the writer's reputation among journalists.
I. Defendant Pearson's Motion to Reconsider Order of March 25, 1965; Plaintiff's Motion to Strike Motion of Defendant Pearson.
This cause of action was originally filed on December 6, 1962, and numerous motions and pleadings have been filed by all parties. It is noted that during the time the case has been pending, defendant Pearson has filed a separate answer and individual motions. Prior to his present motion he has filed no pleadings jointly, nor joined in any pleadings filed on behalf of defendant Washington Post.
No motion for summary judgment was filed on behalf of defendant Pearson, nor was he a party to the motion of defendant Washington Post. Had the Court granted Washington Post's motion for summary judgment, defendant Pearson would have remained a party to the action. He suffers no injury by its denial.
Defendant Pearson not being a party to the motion for summary judgment lacks standing to request the court to reconsider its denial.
Accordingly, plaintiff's Motion to Strike will be granted.
II. Motion to Reconsider Denial of Summary Judgment.
This Court denied the motion for summary judgment on the ground that there was "doubt * * * as to granting of the motion for summary judgment, and when there is such a doubt it should be resolved against the moving party, and summary judgment should be denied." Defendant Washington Post now requests the Court to amend its order to include a statement that there is involved a controlling question of law as to which there is substantial ground for difference of opinion and that an immediate appeal from the order may materially advance the ultimate termination of this litigation. If this amendment is granted, the Court of Appeals may thereupon, in its discretion, permit an appeal to be taken from this order pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b).
Defendant Washington Post, both in its motion for summary judgment and in its instant motion for reconsideration, has maintained that the publication of such matter, when directed against a public figure acting in his official capacity is privileged, and argues that, lacking a showing of actual malice, the defendant Post is entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law. Defendant Post has relied upon the recent cases of New York Times v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254, 84 S. Ct. 710, 11 L. Ed. 2d 686 (1964) and Garrison v. State of Louisiana, 379 U.S. 64, 85 S. Ct. 209, 13 L. Ed. 2d 125 (1964).
In order to prove actual malice under the New York Times standard, one must prove that a statement was made with "knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was ...