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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS: Granada Biosciences Inc. and Granada Foods Corp. sued Forbes Inc., publisher of Forbes magazine, and writer William P. Barrett for business disparagement. The trial court rendered summary judgment for Forbes and Barrett, and the court of appeals reversed. HOLDING: Reversed and rendered. To prevail on a business disparagement claim, a plaintiff must establish that 1. the defendant published false and disparaging information about it; 2. with malice; 3. without privilege; 4. that resulted in special damages to the plaintiff. Hurlbut v. Gulf Atl. Life Ins. Co., 749 S.W.2d 762 (Tex. 1987). A business disparagement claim is similar in many respects to a defamation action. Id. The two torts differ in that defamation actions chiefly serve to protect the personal reputation of an injured party, while a business disparagement claim protects economic interests. In Hurlbut, a suit brought by an insurance agent against his former employer, the court noted that a business disparagement defendant may be held liable “only if he knew of the falsity or acted with reckless disregard concerning it, or if he acted with ill will or intended to interfere in the economic interest of the plaintiff in an unprivileged fashion.” The court of appeals noted in this case that GBI and GFC did not dispute Forbes’s contention that they were “public figures for the purpose of discussing their respective financial statuses,” a conclusion that GBI and GFC do not challenge here. The court then held that ill will or intent to interfere with the plaintiff’s economic interest will not suffice to establish malice in a business disparagement claim brought by a public figure against a media defendant. Instead, the court held that the constitutional interests at stake �� “the conflict between constitutionally protected free expression and a state’s power to award damages based on a defendant’s statements” �� require proof of actual malice under the standard the United States Supreme Court articulated in New York Times v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964). Accordingly, the court held that GFC and GBI must establish that Forbes published the article with knowledge that it made false statements about them, or with reckless disregard as to the statements’ truth. Id. In this Court, GBI and GFC do not challenge the court of appeals’ application of the constitutional malice standard. The court assumes without deciding that the New York Times actual-malice standard applies in a public figure’s business disparagement suit against a media defendant. The single-publication rule’s definition of the publication date for limitations purposes is clearly designed to protect publishers from repeated liability based on old publications that might be reprinted or back ordered. See Robert D. Sack, Sack on Defamation: Libel, Slander, and Related Problems �7.2 (2003). It has nothing to do with determining the publisher’s state of mind at the time of publication. Applying the single-publication rule in this context could lead to virtually uncontrollable liability and potentially absurd results. Here, Barrett was charged with the task of producing a readable article about an extremely complicated network of business entities related to the Granada Corp. While it would have been more accurate for Forbes to identify the precise entities within that group to which it was referring, Forbes’ careless use of the generic “Granada” is no evidence that Forbes entertained serious doubts as to the statements’ truth or had a high degree of awareness of their falsity. The record presents no evidence that Forbes published defamatory statements about GBI and GFC with actual malice. OPINION: O’Neill, J.; Phillips, C.J., Hecht, Owen, Jefferson, Smith, Wainwright and Brister, JJ., joined. Schneider, J.. did not participate in the decision.

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