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JAMES FORSHER, Plaintiff and Appellant, v. VINCENT BUGLIOSI et al., Defendants and Respondents. Civ. No. 43060.

Court of Appeal of California, First Appellate District, Division Three 93 Cal. App. 3d 475; 155 Cal. Rptr. 811; 1979 Cal. App. LEXIS 1785; 5 Media L. Rep. 1145 May 29, 1979 NOTICE: NOT CITABLE - SUPERSEDED BY GRANT OF REVIEW SUBSEQUENT HISTORY: [**1] Hg. granted Aug. 29, 1979 (see 26 C.3d 792) PRIOR HISTORY: Superior Court of San Francisco County, No. 706799, John E. Benson, Judge. CASE SUMMARY PROCEDURAL POSTURE: Plaintiff appealed an order of the Superior Court of San Francisco County (California) which dismissed his claims for libel and invasion of privacy against defendant authors. The trial court found that no special damages had been pleaded and that plaintiff had not stated a claim for libel on its face. OVERVIEW: Plaintiff individual was mentioned by name in the book "Helter Skelter" in connection with the disappearance of an attorney for the Manson family during the murder trial which was the subject of the book. Plaintiff brought an action for libel and invasion of privacy against defendant authors, but the trial court sustained defendants' demurrer without leave to amend. Plaintiff appealed and the court reversed, finding that both causes of action had been sufficiently pleaded. For libel, the court found that because plaintiff had pled no special damages he was required to show libel on its face, which the court agreed appeared from the context of the statements in the book. The court found that such a claim was possible even though the complained of language was also susceptible of a nondefamatory construction. The court further found a valid claim for invasion of privacy where the events described in the book, while still newsworthy, may have been too distant at five years in the past for defendants to be able to establish a benefit under U.S. Const. amend. I for revealing the true identity of someone not involved in the murder trial. OUTCOME: The court reversed the dismissal of plaintiff's claims for libel and invasion of privacy against defendant authors, finding both that plaintiff stated a claim for libel on its face even though the statements in defendants' book could also have a nondefamatory meaning, and that plaintiff had stated a claim for invasion of privacy because his identity had been published five years after the events described in the book.