information he provided about the circumstances of Medina's collapse was corroborated by confidential sources. Wheeler' statements indicated that Medina collapsed at a party, which included city officials, and that there was a delay in calling for help. This information was consistent with information obtained from confidential sources. Further, the Times' reporters believed Wheeler to be a reliable source, because he had provided information on a prior occasion.
Plaintiff argues that inconsistencies between Wheeler's quotes in the Times and his subsequent testimony is evidence of actual malice, because they show that the Times fabricated the quotes. Defendants explain these inconsistencies, in part, by suggesting that Wheeler's memory was affected when he suffered a stroke. Careful review of the record indicates that the alleged inconsistencies are not clear enough to warrant the conclusion that defendants fabricated the quotes. Generally, Wheeler's deposition testimony suggests that he did not remember what he stated to Times' reporters. Further, the inconsistencies relate to minor points in the articles at issue.
In sum, plaintiff's circumstantial evidence involving the nature of defendants' sources does not sufficiently demonstrate that the Times, in fact, seriously doubted the truth of the allegedly defamatory articles. There were no obvious reasons to doubt the veracity or the accuracy of the salient information provided by the confidential sources or by Michael Wheeler. St. Amant v. Thompson, 390 U.S. at 732 ("recklessness may be found where there are obvious reasons to doubt the veracity of the informant or the accuracy of his reports"). Therefore, the Court finds that the record is inadequate to permit the conclusion -- by clear and convincing evidence -- that defendants acted with actual malice. Accordingly, summary judgment for the defendants is appropriate on plaintiff's claim for libel.
D. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress Claim
Defendants are also entitled to summary judgment on plaintiff's claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. Following the Supreme Court's holding in Hustler v. Falwell, 485 U.S. 46, 108 S. Ct. 876, 99 L. Ed. 2d 41 (1988), Clyburn, as a limited purpose public figure, must prove actual malice to recover for the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress. Id. at 882. Thus, in accordance with the Court's conclusion that the evidence is insufficient to permit a finding of actual malice on the facts in this case, defendant's motion for summary judgment is granted on count III of the complaint.
The Court concludes that plaintiff is a limited purpose public figure, and that he has failed to present sufficient evidence to allow a reasonable jury to find actual malice by clear and convincing evidence. Therefore, summary judgment for defendants is warranted on the libel claim and the intentional infliction of emotional distress claim. Plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment on the issue of falsity is denied as moot.
DATED: January 27, 1989
ORDER AND JUDGMENT
Upon consideration of the motion of defendants for summary judgment, the submissions of the parties, oral argument, and the entire record in this case, and consistent with the accompanying Memorandum Opinion, it is this 27th day of January, 1989,
ORDERED that the motion of defendants for summary judgment be, and hereby is, granted; it is further
ORDERED that the motion of plaintiff for summary judgment on the issue of falsity be, and hereby is, denied as moot; and it is further
ORDERED that judgment be, and hereby is, entered in favor of defendants.