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Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (Hon. Judith Bartnoff, Trial Judge)

Argued April 12, 2001

Appellant Larry Klayman challenges the trial court’s dismissal, under Super. Ct. Civ. R. 12 (b)(6) (2000) (failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted), of his amended complaint alleging defamation and false light invasion of privacy against appellees (David Segal and The Washington Post). He filed a timely notice of appeal, contending that, contrary to the trial court’s conclusion, a statement *fn1 in an October 25, 1999, article published in The Washington Post and written by Mr. Segal: (a) “is reasonably capable of being understood in a defamatory sense” because it “falsely caused [him] to appear so bent on publicity for himself that he is insensitive to the murder of innocent children. . . .”; and (b) places him in a false light that would be “offensive to any reasonable person.” We hold, although it is a fairly close call, that when read in context, a reasonable person of ordinary intelligence would not understand the fair and natural meaning of the statement in question to be that Mr. Klayman is insensitive to the murder of innocent children. Thus, as a matter of law, the statement is neither reasonably capable of defamatory meaning, nor does it place Mr. Klayman in a highly offensive light.

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