Larson v. Gannett Co., Inc.

June 29, 2016

Ryan Larson sued Gannett Company, Inc., for defamation in Minnesota after a local television station and newspaper reported on the police investigation into the killing of a police officer. After the officer's death, law enforcement officials held a news conference and issued a press release stating they had arrested Larson in connection with the death. Journalists from KARE 11 and the St. Cloud Times reported on Larson's arrest. Police later cleared Larson as a suspect. The trial court denied Gannett's motion for summary judgment that asserted the statements were protected under the fair report privilege. Gannett appealed for discretionary review to the Minnesota Court of Appeals. The Reporters Committee filed a request to participate as amicus curiae in support of Gannett's petition for discretionary review. The Reporters Committee argued the appellate court should review the decision because of the fair report privilege's importance in reporting on government affairs without fear of liability. Additionally, the denial of Gannett's motion for summary judgment conflicts with the broad fair report privilege applied in other courts. An expedited review would allow the court to resolve this issue promptly and ensure the news media can continue reporting on government affairs without the burdens of continuing litigation.