A New York state court has granted a motion for summary judgment and dismissed libel claims filed against Fox Television Stations Inc. by a D’Lites ice cream seller. Prince v. Fox Television Stations Inc., No. 107129/2011 (N.Y. S. Ct., order entered May 6, 2014). Matthew Prince filed a libel suit against Fox after a local channel in New York aired a report claiming that the low-calorie ice cream sold in the D’Lites stores Prince would soon be opening in the area contained more than three times as many calories, carbohydrates, total fat, and sugar than the amounts the chain advertised—for example, 148 calories rather than the advertised 50.
The court rejected Fox’s argument that its report had not sufficiently identified Prince, despite that the reporters only visited stores that Prince did not own and the report briefly showed a screenshot of the D’Lites Website listing what cities would soon have a D’Lites store; because Prince owned the store locations referenced in that list, the court held, the report identified him for purposes of meeting the defamation standard. Instead, the court granted the motion dismissing Prince’s libel and product disparagement claims on the basis of the truth of Fox’s report, holding that Fox showed that the report was substantially true with evidence of laboratory reports on tests of the ice cream’s nutritional content.