On the other hand, Arizona courts have found the following individuals and organizations, among others, to be private figures:
A company selling an electronic parts catalog where the company was not involved in any public controversy prior to the defendant’s allegedly defamatory statements. The Court specifically held that the company’s use of advertising did not make it a public figure. Dealer Computer Servs., Inc. v. Fullers’ White Mountain Motors, Inc., No. CV07-00748-PCT-JAT, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 83311 (D. Ariz. Oct. 16, 2008).
A corporation selling diamonds and other precious stones, despite its use of mail and telephone solicitations. Antwerp Diamond Exch. of Am. Inc. v. Better Bus. Bureau of Maricopa Cnty., Inc., 130 Ariz. 523, 527 (Ariz. 1981) disapproved on other grounds in Dun & Broadstreet v. Greenmoss Builders, 472 U.S. 749, 753 n.1 (1985).
Actual Malice and Negligence
Arizona courts apply a negligence standard to defamation claims brought by private figures seeking compensatory damages. Peagler v. Phoenix Newspapers, Inc., 114 Ariz. 309, 315 (Ariz. 1977).
Public officials, all-purpose public figures, and limited-purpose public figures must prove that the defendant acted with actual malice, i.e., knowing that the statements were false or recklessly disregarding their falsity. See the general page on actual malice and negligence for details on the standards and terminology mentioned in this subsection.
Privileges and Defenses
Arizona courts recognize a number of privileges and defenses in the context of defamation actions, including substantial truth, the opinion and fair comment privileges, and the fair report privilege.