Municipal figures including a county treasurer, a county engineer, a municipal law director, a city council member, members of the Board of Education; and
Owners and executives of prominent businesses.
Limited-Purpose Public Figure
A limited-purpose public figure is a person who voluntarily injects himself or is drawn into a particular public controversy. However, a private person is not automatically transformed into a limited-purpose public figure merely by becoming involved in or associated with a matter that attracts public attention. A court will look to the nature and extent of the individual's participation in the controversy. New Franklin Enterprises v. Sabo, 480 N.W.2d 326, 328 (Mich. App. 1991).
In Michigan, the following persons have been considered limited-purpose public figures:
The owner of a private art school was a public figure for the limited range of issues relating to the art school, its administration, and its problems;
A wife of a public official who injected herself into a public controversy made her a public figure for purpose of the controversy bolstered by the fact she was married to a public figure.
A retired schoolteacher who worked for the public school system for 30 years, regularly attended and voiced concerns at School Board meetings, and had his own talk show entitled "One Man's Opinion" where he discussed matters relating to the Board.
See the general page on actual malice and negligence for details on these standards.
Privileges and Defenses
Michigan courts recognize a number of privileges and defenses in the context of defamation actions, including substantial truth, opinion and fair comment privileges, wire service defense and the fair report privilege. Michigan has declined to adopt the neutral reportage privilege.