In a case of first impression in Texas, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that the "single publication rule," which states that the statute of limitations period for libel begins to run when a defamatory statement is first published, applies to publications on the Internet.
Some background on the case: on July 29, 2003, the Dallas Morning News published -- in print
and on its website -- an allegedly defamatory article by financial writer
Scott Burns about an accelerated mortgage program offered by Nationwide
Bi-Weekly Administration, a company that provides mortgage payment
services for borrowers. The article, among other things, accused
Nationwide of engaging in deceptive business practices.
Nationwide filed a complaint in Ohio state court, near where it is based, on July 28, 2004, asserting claims for defamation, tortious interference with prospective business relations, and business disparagement against the Dallas Morning News, its owner Belo Corp., and Burns. Nationwide did not, however, serve the complaint on any of the defendants until June 2005. (Shortly thereafter, the defendants successfully removed the case to federal court in Ohio, whereupon the court transferred venue to the Northern District of Texas.)
read more »