Dignified Dying Case Study

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This Court is being asked to review a Superior Court of Los Angeles County judgement that Appellee Aryah Joseph Muhammed was a private figure for the purpose of a defamation action, and Appellant COMQWEST violated California Civil Code §45. The issue is whether Muhammed voluntarily injected himself into a public controversy and had sufficient media access. Appellee Muhammed was an Arab American who had a noteworthy career in the area of health care. Muhammed was the former official of the Country Health Commission in two different counties, and he was the owner and president of a local hospice business Exit Gracefully. Under Exit Gracefully, Muhammed was in control of Dignified Dying, a monthly newsletter and website. The main content of Dignified Dying was to promote
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Muhammed claimed that as a result of the article, he lost $100,000 in net business revenue and the support of two major investors, and the total sum of lost investment capital was $400,000.
Muhammed claimed that he was not a terrorist, nor a practicing Muslim, and he had never been considered as Connor’s potential health care cabinet appointee. Moreover, he has met Connor personally on only two occasions, both times during fundraising events relating to the delegalization of assisted suicide.
Muhammed sued COMQWEST for defamation, but COMQWEST argued that Muhammed was a Limited Purpose Public Figure (LPPF), so he had to prove the COMQWEST acted with actual malice in publishing defamatory article. The lower court hold that Muhammed was not a LPPF, because he did not attempt to thrust himself to the forefront of the public controversy for the purpose of influencing its outcome, and he did not have sufficient media access to rebut COMQWEST’s defamatory
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