Would a local business leader be considered a public figure in terms of the law for a libel/defamation suit?

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Would a local business leader be considered a public figure in terms of the law for a libel/defamation suit?

Asked on February 28, 2011 under Personal Injury, Maryland

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

There is no hard-and-fast answer as to this. Generallly speaking, though, it would not be the case; merely being prominent in a community or an organization (e.g. an improvement district or chamger of commerce) is not enough to make one a "public figure." Usually there has to something more--a deliberate putting oneself (or thrusting oneself) forward into a public role. For example, the CEO of Seimens (the electronics giant) would probably not be a public figure, because he hasn't put himself into the limilight; the CEO of Papa Johns Pizza could easily be a public figure, however, because he appears in commercials. The answer depends on the role and public exposure of the person in question.


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