Wiggin & Dana wins important victory on behalf of media client, the New Haven Register.

October 6, 2002
On September 27, 2002, Judge Richard Arnold of the Connecticut Superior Court in New Haven, Connecticut summarily dismissed a lawsuit brought by two plaintiffs, Jeffrey C. Mackowski and David Alfano, against the Register.  Mackowski and Alfano sued the Register after the newspaper published an article describing their arrest on charges of kidnapping, assault, drug possession and possession of drug paraphrenalia.  They claimed the article was false, except for the reporting of their names and addresses.  Judge Arnold, however, found no legal basis for these claims to proceed to trial. 
 
In his ruling, Judge Arnold recognized that the State of Connecticut adopted what is known as the "fair reporting privilege," insulating the press from liability for publishing an article that is "a fair and accurate report of judicial and official proceedings."  Applying the privilege to this case, the Court found that the article describing the arrest of Mackowski and Alfano fairly and accurately described the contents of the arrest report filed by the Connecticut State Police, an "official proceeding."  
 
Judge Arnold also applied Connecticut's retraction statute to the claims of Mackowski and Alfano.  Under Connecticut's retraction statute, Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 52-237, a plaintiff who fails to seek a written retraction cannot recover anything unless they prove that they have special damages or that the newspaper acted with malice in publishing the article.  The Court found that neither plaintiff had any evidence of special damages nor could either provide evidence of  malice on the part of the Register.  
 
This decision is important for at least two reasons.  First, there are not many written decisions applying the "fair reporting privilege" under Connecticut law.  Second, there are also not many written decisions defining special damages under Connecticut law, as not including harm to reputation.  This ruling adds to the body of case law relevant to both of these legal principles and thus, should prove helpful in future cases. 
 
The Register was represented in this matter by Wiggin & Dana's Daniel J. Klau and Victor A. Bolden , who argued the case before Judge Arnold.