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Diaz v. Rankin – Case Brief Summary (Texas)

In Diaz v. Rankin, 777 S.W.2d 496 (Tex. App.--Corpus Christi 1989, no writ), two owners of a golf course filed a libel and slander suit after the defendant made a statement during a radio broadcast pertaining to the location of a golf tournament and "whether participants would have to go up there and play with dope dealers." Id. at 498.

Plaintiffs admitted the broadcast did not mention them by name, but referred to the owner and operator of the golf course. Id.

Defendants moved for summary judgment arguing, among other things, the statements were not defamatory because they did not mention the plaintiffs or the golf course. Id.

In response to the summary judgment, plaintiffs attached an affidavit in which one listener testified he knew the broadcasted statement referred to the plaintiffs because they owned the golf course and were registered participants in the tournament. Id.

In concluding a fact issue existed to deny summary judgment, the court recognized a statement does not have to specifically name a plaintiff to be defamatory. Id. at 499.

"Every listener does not have to understand the statement to be a reference to the individual plaintiff as long as there are some who reasonably do." Id.