Fox v. Smith

“When a person is defamed via a medium with worldwide accessibility, a cause of action may arise in multiple venues”. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that “a plaintiff may select a single venue in a defamation action in any location in which publication and concomitant injury has occurred, albeit that publication and harm may have ensued in multiple counties”. Appellee appeared on the general-election ballot as a candidate for mayor of the Borough of Chester Heights in Delaware Co. Appellant defeated her. Appellee subsequently brought a civil action in Philadelphia Co., advancing multiple causes of action including defamation. The complaint alleged, in relevant part, that during the campaign Appellants published information on internet and social media websites falsely accusing Appellee of having been charged with a crime. Appellants filed preliminary objections challenging the appropriateness of venue in Philadelphia Co., which the trial court overruled. The Superior and Supreme Courts affirmed. The Supreme Court agreed with Appellee that venue was proper in counties in which a cause of action arose. A cause of action for defamation arose where publication of the defamatory statements occurred. And publication occurred where a third-party recipient understood the statement as being defamatory.

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