News article brings personal injury and defamation claims

Date:Dec 05, 2018

In NSW, people often begin court proceedings if they believe negligence caused them personal injury or other damages. In a recent case, a woman brought claims against news companies over an article that she said caused her health and emotional problems.

The news article publication

The Daily Telegraph published an article claiming that the plaintiff had written a heartfelt letter to a judge about her boyfriend's jail sentence. The boyfriend had pled guilty to giving an undercover policeman 17 grams of cocaine and had been sentenced to three years and nine months in prison.

The news article claimed that the plaintiff defended her boyfriend's character, saying that this incident was the tipping point from which he'd finally turn his life around.

The plaintiff claims that the publication of the article, both in print and online, caused the following damages:

  • She suffered serious damage to her personal and professional reputation.
  • She suffered emotional, psychological and physical damage to her health and was hospitalised.
  • She wasted time and costs in dealing with the matter with her employer.
  • She and her family have endured humiliation, ridicule and abuse and became unwell.

On 19 March 2018, the woman first began proceedings against Nationwide News seeking the removal of the story that appeared online. On the same day, she filed proceedings against Newscorp in the Defamation List of the Common Law Division. That claim was for damages for the company's publication of the articles.

Both claims were either refused or dismissed. The judge said that the personal injuries the woman said she had "were not reasonably capable of arising from the Article and, even if they did, they did not meet the threshold of seriousness required."

The woman then said she intended to appeal and she subsequently tried to make the same arguments in court again, after the initial decision.

The results of the recent day in court

The judge in the most recent court hearing said that bringing about the new personal injury proceedings is an abuse of process, as it brings the "same controversy for determination again." In other words, the judge explained that the final decision made by the first judge may not be reopened.

The judge ordered the plaintiff to pay the defendant's costs in the proceedings. The defendants are now allowed to pursue an amended notice of motion which claimed in part that the plaintiff was guilty of contempt of court.

If you have suffered a personal injury and are seeking legal advice, call us for a free consultation today. Our team at Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers are here to help you with the legal process.

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