In addition, several lower California courts have expressed support for the privilege without directly ruling that the privilege applies. See Weingarten v. Block, 102 Cal. App. 3d 129, 148 (1980); Grillo v. Smith, 144 Cal. App. 3d 868, 872 (1983); Stockton Newspapers, Inc. v. Superior Court, 206 Cal. App. 3d 966, 981 (1988); Brown v. Kelly Broad. Co., 48 Cal. 3d 711, 732-33 n.18 (Cal. Ct. App. 1989).
Although their application of the privilege is not binding on California state courts, two federal courts in the state have applied the neutral reportage privilege in situations involving the following:
A college basketball player (ruled a public figure) who accused his coach (also deemed a public figure) of participating in payments made to the player by team boosters. Barry v. Time, Inc., 584 F. Supp. 1110, 1112 (D. Cal. 1984). The court held that there was no requirement that the person making the accusation have a reputation for "trustworthiness" for the neutral report privilege to apply.
The details published by a tabloid, News of the World, about the private life of a well known actor. Ward v. News Group Int'l, 733 F. Supp. 83 (D. Cal. 1990). The court emphasized that the republication occurred in a fair and accurate manner and that the tabloid published the actor's denial along with the accusation.
Wire Service Defense
The wire service defense generally is not recognized in California. However, one trial court in California did recognize the wire service defense in an unpublished decision. Peper v. Gannett Co., Inc., No. 2002061753, 2003 WL 22457121 at *6 (Cal. Super. Ct. 2003). Since the decision was at the trial court level and unpublished, other California courts are free to disregard the court's decision to apply the wire service defense.
Statute of Limitations for Defamation
California's statute of limitations for defamation is one (1) year. See California Code of Civil Procedure 340(c).