South Carolina Court of Appeals Opinion

 

Court of AppealsOn Wednesday, the South Carolina Court of Appeals published Kelley v. Wren.  David Wren and Sun Publishing Company, Inc. appealed  a jury verdict awarding $400,000 in actual damages and $250,000 in punitive damages to Mark Kelley on Kelley’s claims he was libeled by a series of articles Wren wrote for The Sun News of Myrtle Beach.

Wren and Sun Publishing argued (1) the trial court erred in denying their motions for a directed verdict and judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) because Kelley presented no evidence Wren or Sun Publishing made a false and defamatory statement of fact, (2) the trial court erred in denying their motions for a directed verdict and JNOV because Kelley failed to present clear and convincing evidence Wren wrote the articles with actual malice, (3) the trial court erred in admitting expert testimony about the standards of professional journalism, (4) the trial court erred in ruling the damages awards were not so grossly excessive as to warrant a new trial absolute, and (5) the punitive damages award violates the free press guarantees of the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

This Court affirmed all of the findings of the trial court against Wren and Sun Publishing.

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