Selby v. Savard

In Selby v. Savard, 134 Ariz. 222, 655 P.2d 342 (1982), a disgruntled resort owner had made disparaging allegations about a liquor department official and had contacted a Department of Public Safety (DPS) officer to report "allegations of the official's criminal conduct of the most serious nature." Id. at 224, 655 P.2d at 344. On appeal from a judgment awarding damages to the official in his defamation action against the resort owner, the appellant owner asserted that his report to DPS was conditionally privileged. The Arizona Supreme Court, without addressing whether an absolute privilege might apply, noted the official was a public figure subject to the "actual malice" standard of New York Times v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254, 280, 84 S. Ct. 710, 726, 11 L. Ed. 2d 686 (1964). Because it had been shown the defendant had published the defamatory statements with actual malice, the plaintiff had "overcome" the defendant's "conditional privilege." Selby at 225, 655 P.2d at 345.