Victor Mignogna v. Funimation Productions, LLC, et al. - Vic's lawsuit against Funimation, VAs, and others, for over a million dollars.

DragoonSierra

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The Public Figure question is a question of law, not fact. The law finder is the judge, so he could determine that at this point in the proceedings. I'd say he'd probably have to to reach a conclusion for the purpose of the TCPA. That being said, Vic is almost certainly not a general purpose public figure or public official. As for limited purpose, there are two meanings to that:

1. A person who "have thrust themselves to the forefront of particular controversies in order to influence the resolution of the issues involved." Gertz v. Robert Welch Inc., 418 U.S. 323 (U.S. 1974).
2. individuals who have distinguished themselves in a particular field, making them "public figures" regarding only those specific activities.

Vic wouldn't meet the first meaning as he did not thrust himself into a major controversy, but was forced into it by the tortuous actions of the defendants. The second meaning is also limited. To quote, "These limited-purpose public figures are not the Kobe Bryants, who are regarded as all-purpose public figures, but rather the journeymen basketball players of the league." Also, for these limited purpose public figures, "the actual malice standard extends only as far as defamatory statements involve matters related to the topics about which they are considered public figures. To return to our basketball example, the actual malice standard would extend to statements involving the player's basketball career; however, it would not extend to the details of his marriage." In Vic's case, the defamatory statements made against him have nothing to do with his career as a voice actor; he wasn't alleged to have used his position for sexual favors, to have been a bad employee, or to have robbed his employer. The defamatory statements were made about his private life, his private sexual conduct, and his private interactions with the defendants and their acquaintances. None of the alleged incidents of Vic's behavior happened on company time or involved the company. Under That standard, I would say that Vic is not a limited public figure in this case, and this is the best argument moving forward.

Also, in regards to whether or not someone has forced their way into a case to become a limited purpose public figure the court looks at:

1. The depth of the person's participation in the controversy.
2. The amount of freedom he or she has in choosing to engage in the controversy in the first place (e.g., if they were forced into the public light). See Wolston v. Reader's Digest Association, 443 U.S. 157 (1979).
3. Whether he has taken advantage of the media to advocate his cause. See Time, Inc. v. Firestone, 424 U.S. 448 (U.S. 1976).

To further elucidate how the court may rule on this subject, here is a list of those found to be limited purpose public figures:

1. A retired general who advocated on national security issues. See Secord v. Cockburn, 747 F.Supp. 779 (1990).
2. A scientist who was prominent and outspoken in his opposition to nuclear tests. See Pauling v. Globe-Democrat Publishing Co., 362 F.2d 188 (1966).
3. A nationally-known college football coach accused of fixing a football game. See Curtis Publishing Co. v. Butts, 388 U.S. 130 (1967).
4. A professional belly dancer for a matter related to her performance. See James v. Gannet Co., 40 N.Y.2d 415 (1976).
5. A Playboy Playmate for purpose of a parody. See Vitale v. National Lampoon, Inc., 449 F. Supp 442 (1978).

And here is a list of those NOT found to limited purpose public figures:

1. A well-known lawyer and civic leader engaged in a very public trial involving police brutality. See Gertz v. Robert Welch Inc., 418 U.S. 323 (1972).
2. A socialite going through a divorce who both collected press clippings on herself and held press conferences regarding the divorce. See Time, Inc. v. Firestone, 424 U.S. 448 (U.S. 1976).
3. A Penthouse Pet for purposes of parody. See Pring v. Penthouse Int'l Ltd., 695 F.2d 438 (1982).
Are any of those Texas cases?

The appeals court could find everything Chupp said is gibbering idiocy and he failed to do his job but that his actual decision itself was right anyway and uphold all the dismissals, giving their own reasons for doing so.
That doesnt seem likely considering he has to go through an appeals court and the Texas Supreme Court

That would be an important distinction to make, though. To go back to the basketball player example I used: If our theoretical journeyman basketball player was accused of cheating on his wife with a fan by a jealous colleague and this costed our basketball player his marriage, and he sued said colleague for defamation, that would not make him a limited purpose public figure because that directly pertains to his personal life, not his career or position within the basketball industry; said fan might as well be a random woman he slept with for the purposes of the allegation, as it still would of had the same effect regardless of who the woman was. However, if he was accused of using his position as a basketball player to force interns working for the franchise he is playing for to have sex with him, that would make him limited purpose because that directly pertains to his career as basketball player and his conduct as a member of a basketball franchise. Same if he was accused of throwing one of his games, versus someone claiming he engages in dog fights on his spare time; the first regards his career as a player, the second does not.

Vic never used his position or influence to, say, coerce younger actresses or other personnel working on his shows to have sex with him, nor is he even alleged to have done so. Sleeping with those few people who are fans of his shows and/or of him personally doesn't make him a public figure, even a limited purpose one, anymore than if he was sleeping with random women. Merely being appealing to women because of his job doesn't make him a public figure, anymore than a lawyer being rich enough to have any woman he wants be enough to make him a public figure.
Monica and Jamie wouldnt qualify as fellow contractors at Funimation? Even if the acts Jamie accused Vic of doing occured on Funimation property? Wouldnt Funimation's defamation be career based since it was an official statement? Could he be found to be lppf and not lppf on separate causes of action?
 

Gehenna

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Monica and Jamie wouldnt qualify as fellow contractors at Funimation? Even if the acts Jamie accused Vic of doing occured on Funimation property? Wouldnt Funimation's defamation be career based since it was an official statement? Could he be found to be lppf and not lppf on separate causes of action?
To your last statement, yes. It is the PURPOSE of Limited Purpose Public Figure.
 

The Demon Pimp of Razgriz

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Are any of those Texas cases?
Curtis Publishing Co. v. Butts, Gertz v. Robert Welsh Inc., Time Inc. v. Firestone, and Wolston v. Readers Digest Association are all Supreme Court cases so they are relevant to this case and are binding jurisprudence on the Texas courts. As for the others, I'm not sure, but James v. Gannet Co. looks like a New York case, so it may not have binding jurisprudence on Texas. The others could be federal cases that didn't make it to the Supreme Court, but as for what courts they passed through, I don't know.

Monica and Jamie wouldnt qualify as fellow contractors at Funimation? Even if the acts Jamie accused Vic of doing occured on Funimation property? Wouldnt Funimation's defamation be career based since it was an official statement? Could he be found to be lppf and not lppf on separate causes of action?
Whether Monica or Jamie were contractors (or employees) of Funimation at the time they alleged things happened to them will be facts to be determined by the court, but it shouldn't matter if the incidents happened on personal time and involved personal escapades between each of them and Vic. If the incidents had occurred on Funimation property or on company time, that would probably weigh towards Vic being a limited purpose public figure for the purposes of that case, since that would be relevant to his situation as an employee, and, by extension, his career, but that's not the case here. Funimation's defamation was not based on Vic's career; they didn't say he was a bad employee, but they implied he was a harasser and/or sexual predator. What's relevant in this situation is what the defamation was directed towards, not who defamed him. Defamation regarding Vic's career would risk finding him a public figure as he would be one for limited purposes regarding situations directly stemming from his career as a voice actor. His alleged misconduct was completely unrelated to his actual career. And yes he could be found a LPPF and not an LPPF for seperate causes of action. It is also possible for a person to lose the status as a limited purpose public figure if the controversy that made them one has died down.
 

Sheryl Nome

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Honestly seriously if you're not looking at the Lane case, which was literally decided by the appeals court this will be going to, and drawing guidance from that, you're not really looking.


This is probably the most important case for the public figure determination.
 

The Demon Pimp of Razgriz

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Honestly seriously if you're not looking at the Lane case, which was literally decided by the appeals court this will be going to, and drawing guidance from that, you're not really looking.


This is probably the most important case for the public figure determination.
First, as I alluded would be the case up above, the first thing the court locked onto in that case is that "the evidence in the record demonstrates a public controversy about Lane's role as a university voice teacher". In other words, the controversy at the heart of the case was focused on her career as a teacher, which is also directly related to her career as a renowned opera singer. This is a clear case where the defamation in question directly pertained to plaintiff's career, combined with the fact that said career was as a high profile opera singer who also taught college.

Second, Vic doesn't have anywhere near the exposure Lane had. He doesn't have a grammy or was even nominated for one, nor does his job regularly invite media attention, nor does he use his stature as a "voice actor" to recruit people to work for him in any way shape or form. Vic is not recognized nationally or internationally for his voice acting, and his voice acting hasn't been discussed in newspapers across the country. Nor has one of his voice acting gigs been recorded for use as a teaching tool across the country. Nor does Vic trade on his renown as a voice actor for jobs or teaching positions, if such renown could even be found. The closest we could get is that Vic goes to fan conventions, which largely cater to niche audience of fan communities .

Third, unlike Lane, the statements Vic is suing for do not concern Vic's role as a voice actor.

The facts of this case are quite unlike the ones in Lane, just like the facts in Hoskins, where also unlike the ones in Lane.
 
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Imperial Agent

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Curtis Publishing Co. v. Butts, Gertz v. Robert Welsh Inc., Time Inc. v. Firestone, and Wolston v. Readers Digest Association are all Supreme Court cases so they are relevant to this case and are binding jurisprudence on the Texas courts. As for the others, I'm not sure, but James v. Gannet Co. looks like a New York case, so it may not have binding jurisprudence on Texas. The others could be federal cases that didn't make it to the Supreme Court, but as for what courts they passed through, I don't know.
Federal Supreme Court cases are not binding on State Courts unless the matter deals specifically with either constitutional interpretation or Federal law.

EDIT: To clarify, I believe Public Figure Doctrine would be a federal [issue], but your post read as if because it was Supreme Court it automatically applied to Texas.
 
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AnOminous

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Federal Supreme Court cases are not binding on State Courts unless the matter deals specifically with either constitutional interpretation or Federal law.

EDIT: To clarify, I believe Public Figure Doctrine would be a federal [issue], but your post read as if because it was Supreme Court it automatically applied to Texas.
Well, obviously, defamation law in all cases is going to address constitutional law. The First Amendment applies everywhere.

Also the Supreme Court in general is the final appeal court to all others. If state law contradicts federal law, federal law prevails. The Supreme Court prefers not to overrule state courts on matters of state law, but when it does, that's still binding.

Even a state court's interpretation of state law can implicate Supreme Court of the United States jurisdiction when a state improperly applying its own law implicates due process or other constitutional concerns. Otherwise, how did SCOTUS overrule a state on an interpretation of its own law in Bush v. Gore?
 

Imperial Agent

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Well, obviously, defamation law in all cases is going to address constitutional law. The First Amendment applies everywhere.

Also the Supreme Court in general is the final appeal court to all others. If state law contradicts federal law, federal law prevails. The Supreme Court prefers not to overrule state courts on matters of state law, but when it does, that's still binding.

Even a state court's interpretation of state law can implicate Supreme Court of the United States jurisdiction when a state improperly applying its own law implicates due process or other constitutional concerns. Otherwise, how did SCOTUS overrule a state on an interpretation of its own law in Bush v. Gore?
State Court decisions can only be appealed to the SCOTUS if they involve a question of Constitutional Law.

They are seperate systems by design, and overlap in binding precedent should only apply where overlap in utilized laws/statutes exist.

SCOTUS does not have the right to overide State law where no Federal Law or Constitutional Law is infringed. Erie Railroad Co. v. Tompkins seems pretty clear on this as does 28 U.S.C.A § 1652

§ 1652. State laws as rules of decision
Currentness

The laws of the several states, except where the Constitution or treaties of the United States or Acts of Congress otherwise require or provide, shall be regarded as rules of decision in civil actions in the courts of the United States, in cases where they apply.

I'm not particularly familiar with the wording of Bush v. Gore, but I would have to assume they either worded it in a way that framed it as a federal issue, or made a mistake.
 

AnOminous

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I'm not particularly familiar with the wording of Bush v. Gore, but I would have to assume they either worded it in a way that framed it as a federal issue, or made a mistake.
They went out of their way to insist that the principle never be applied to any other case because they were making a mistake on purpose.
 

Imperial Agent

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They went out of their way to insist that the principle never be applied to any other case because they were making a mistake on purpose.
Fair enough then, but seems like a different issue than the general point I was making about SCOTUS being non binding authority with exception to specific circumstances.
 

AnOminous

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Fair enough then, but seems like a different issue than the general point I was making about SCOTUS being non binding authority with exception to specific circumstances.
They're binding authority on anything where they actually had the jurisdiction to say whatever they did at all. They generally don't when it's state courts on state law, but defamation law always implicates the First Amendment. Public figure doctrine is inherently a First Amendment issue, and sets a floor of protection beneath which no state can go.
 

The Demon Pimp of Razgriz

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Keep in mind that the focus on my original comment, which the person I responded to was responding to, was Public Figure doctrine, so I answered his question with that in mind and with the most basic answer: Yes these cases apply to Texas (what went unsaid is that its because this is a first amendment issue).
 

Imperial Agent

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They're binding authority on anything where they actually had the jurisdiction to say whatever they did at all. They generally don't when it's state courts on state law, but defamation law always implicates the First Amendment. Public figure doctrine is inherently a First Amendment issue, and sets a floor of protection beneath which no state can go.
I've already stated I agree that in the issue at hand they are binding, but I'm not sure I can agree with the first sentence.

It seems to directly contradict what is previously written on the matter:
Erie R. Co. v. Tompkins: "Except in matters governed by the Federal Constitution or by acts of Congress, the law to be applied in any case is the law of the state."

This seems to pretty explicitly outline what the court is supposed to be able to exercise authority over. Whether or not the SCOTUS oversteps that boundary from time to time is a separate issue.

The SCOTUS by nature lacks any real check to its powers, but that doesn't seem relevant to a point about what is considered binding authority when citing cases and conducting legal research.
 

AnOminous

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I've already stated I agree that in the issue at hand they are binding, but I'm not sure I can agree with the first sentence.

It seems to directly contradict what is previously written on the matter:
Erie R. Co. v. Tompkins: "Except in matters governed by the Federal Constitution or by acts of Congress, the law to be applied in any case is the law of the state."
Unless it contradicts federal law or the constitution.

What Erie specifically means is that there is no "general federal common law" and that the substantive law of the state applies. It's explicitly limited to the application of state law in federal courts where the jurisdiction derives from diversity jurisdiction (or in other cases where a federal court is trying state law).

Even there, it doesn't apply when there's a federal rule on the subject and the state law contradicts. Gasperini would be illustrative there, or more appropriately, the recent Fifth Circuit case that even when trying state law defamation claims, Texas's TCPA doesn't apply in diversity cases in federal court because FRCP 12 already exists and addresses the same subject matter.
 
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Imperial Agent

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Unless it contradicts federal law or the constitution.

What Erie specifically means is that there is no "general federal common law" and that the substantive law of the state applies. It's explicitly limited to the application of state law in federal courts where the jurisdiction derives from diversity jurisdiction (or in other cases where a federal court is trying state law).

Even there, it doesn't apply when there's a federal rule on the subject and the state law contradicts. Gasperini would be illustrative there, or more appropriately, the recent Fifth Circuit case that even when trying state law defamation claims, Texas's TCPA doesn't apply in diversity cases in federal court because FRCP 12 already exists and addresses the same subject matter.
I'm not sure what you're even disagreeing with me on at this point. The first sentence of the post you responded to already acknowledged that.

My position from the onset has been: "Federal Supreme Court cases are not binding on State Courts unless the matter deals specifically with either constitutional interpretation or Federal law."

The entire point being to draw the distinction between SCOTUS being generally binding vs binding only in the specified circumstances.
 

AnOminous

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I'm not sure what you're even disagreeing with me on at this point. The first sentence of the post you responded to already acknowledged that.

My position from the onset has been: "Federal Supreme Court cases are not binding on State Courts unless the matter deals specifically with either constitutional interpretation or Federal law."

The entire point being to draw the distinction between SCOTUS being generally binding vs binding only in the specified circumstances.
My disagreement was citing Erie which is relevant to federal trial courts hearing state law cases under diversity jurisdiction, which isn't really relevant to the precedential value of Supreme Court cases to state law cases involving state law, when the Supreme Court ruling concerns a matter the court had jurisdiction to hear in the first place. Supreme Court appellate jurisdiction and precedent are very different from trial court original jurisdiction.
 

The Demon Pimp of Razgriz

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I'm not sure what you're even disagreeing with me on at this point. The first sentence of the post you responded to already acknowledged that.

My position from the onset has been: "Federal Supreme Court cases are not binding on State Courts unless the matter deals specifically with either constitutional interpretation or Federal law."

The entire point being to draw the distinction between SCOTUS being generally binding vs binding only in the specified circumstances.
And as I pointed out, my comment was in relation to the specific subject matter at hand, which is a fundamentally federal question, making your statement irrelevant. The question was "Are any of those Texas cases?" Assuredly this question was asked because generally only Texas cases are considered binding jurisprudence (not other state courts) in Texas...unless this is a federal question or issue, in which case the Supreme Court or pertinent federal appellate courts hold jurisdiction. That's why I answered the way I did. Everyone knows this is a federal question at this point, so that wasn't in dispute, only whether the cases were binding or not.
 

AnOminous

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That's why I answered the way I did. Everyone knows this is a federal question at this point, so that wasn't in dispute, only whether the cases were binding or not.
And they do, at least as to the minimum level a public figure doctrine could have. Texas could find an even broader cross section of society to be public figures, though they'd run into their own state constitution issues if they did, since the Texas Constitution itself recognizes a defamation cause of action.

“Every person shall be at liberty to speak, write or publish his opinions on any subject, being responsible for the abuse of that privilege[.]” Tex. Const. art. I, § 8.

If Chupp's interpretation of the TCPA is correct, it would imo make the TCPA unconstitutional under the Texas Constitution as it essentially would amount to saying there's no such thing as a defamation cause of action in Texas.
 

Imperial Agent

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My disagreement was citing Erie which is relevant to federal trial courts hearing state law cases under diversity jurisdiction, which isn't really relevant to the precedential value of Supreme Court cases to state law cases involving state law, when the Supreme Court ruling concerns a matter the court had jurisdiction to hear in the first place. Supreme Court appellate jurisdiction and precedent are very different from trial court original jurisdiction.
In your first response to me I hadn't even cited Erie yet....

Erie is also precedent for general application of the laws of the United States, which is relevant to all cases. It's application isn't limited to simply informing application of law in federal cases. It was providing clarification about the correct interpretation of 28 U.S.C.A. § 1652.

EDIT: I suppose it seems worth repeating; It doesn't look like any of us are actually disagreeing with each other (aside from potentially the minor disagreement on application of Erie). I made a point of clarification for informational purposes because this thread is also populated by users who have a less firm understanding of how binding authority works in State vs Fed level.
 
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VicMontana

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Learning so much this week about all different things, guess that is one good thing about the Weeb Wars. Learning so much about different laws and levels of laws and got a final piece to some 9/11 puzzle I was working on for a while, it's been a good week.
 
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