Tag Archives: Forseeable

Illinois Broadens Scope of Publication Liability in Defamation Cases to Include Reasonably Forseeable Unauthorized Repetitions

On February 10, 2012 the Illinois Appellate Court broadened the scope of publication for which a defendant may be liable in defamation cases.  In Tunca v Painter, the Court held that a defendant is not only liable for statements he made, but also for those repetitions of his statements by third parties which are reasonably foreseeable, or the natural and probable consequence of the defendant’s original statement. Thus, in Tunca, the Court extended defamation liability for statements made by third parties who then spread the defamatory statements to additional people. This enhanced scope is consistent with Restatement (Second) of Torts as well as the majority of other jurisdictions. New York and Missouri still adhere to the rule that there is no liability for unauthorized republications.  A prior Illinois decision from 1882, Clifford v Cochrane, held that the publication at issue must have been made by the defendant or by a third party with the defendant’s authorization.

Tunca brings Illinois in line with the majority of jurisdictions which extend defamation liability for the repetition of defamatory statements by third persons which are reasonably forseeable. This development is consistent with the body of recent tort law in general through which a plaintiff may recover damages which are the reasonably forseeable consequence of the defendant’s conduct.