In White v. Fraternal Order of Police, 909 F.2d 512 (D.C. Cir. 1990), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit noted that it had not yet recognized the neutral reportage privilege, although the court seemed to express a favorable view of it. At least one lower D.C. court has applied the privilege. See In re United Press Intern, 106 B.R. 323 (D.D.C. 1989) (news reports were immune from defamation liability under neutral reportage). In an earlier case, a federal district court held that the neutral report privilege would not apply to a case involving statements about a private figure. See Dressbach v. Doubleday & Co., 8 Media L. Rep. 1793 (D.D.C. 1982).
Statute of Limitations for Defamation
The District's statute of limitations for defamation is one (1) year. See D.C. Code Sec 12-301(4).
The District has adopted the single publication rule. See Jin v. Ministry of State Secretary, 254 F.Supp. 2d 61, 68 (D.D.C. 2003). For a definition of the "single publication rule," see the Statute of Limitations for Defamation section of this guide.
In Jankovic v. International Crisis Group, 494 F.3d 1080 (D.C. Cir. 2007), the D.C. Circuit held that the single publication rule applies to statements posted on the Internet, and that the statute of limitations runs from the date of first publication absent "republication" of the allegedly defamatory statement by updating it or taking steps to expand the audience for it. While the Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia has not ruled on the issue as a matter of state law, it is likely that other D.C. courts would apply this holding. Therefore, the statute of limitations in Internet cases should run from the date of first posting, absent some modification that triggers "republication."
Florida Defamation Law
Note: This page covers information specific to Florida. For general information concerning defamation, see the Defamation Law section of this guide.