This case involved a defamation claim brought by respondent—a private figure—against appellant. Respondent sued appellant after a post on appellant’s Facebook page accused respondent and two other dance instructors from the Twin Cities dance community of varying degrees of sexual assault. Respondent was one of appellant’s dance teachers, and the two previously had a casual sexual relationship that lasted for about a year. The District Court granted appellant’s motion for summary judgment, finding that appellant’s speech was true and, alternatively, that her speech involved a matter of public concern and was not made with actual malice. The Court of Appeals reversed. It held that the truth or falsity of appellant’s statement presented a genuine issue of material fact. The Court of Appeals further held, in a divided opinion, that because the dominant theme of appellant’s post involved a matter of private concern, respondent was not required to prove actual malice to recover presumed damages.
The Supreme Court held that (1) analysis of the totality of the circumstances—including the content, form, and context of appellant’s Facebook post that accused respondent in this defamation action and two other dance instructors of sexual assault—showed that her speech involved a matter of public concern, namely, sexual assault in the context of the #MeToo movement; and (2) because a genuine issue of material fact existed as to the truth or falsity of appellant’s alleged defamatory statement, it could not resolve the issue of actual malice upon appeal. Reversed and remanded.
Rules of State Board of Legal Certification
The Supreme Court promulgated broad amendments to these rules, effective September 14, 2023.