Discovery Rule Doesn’t Apply to Blogs
In the current era we live in of social media, instantaneous news and so forth, people sometimes give less attention and care to something they write online as opposed to a document sent by mail or publish in print. We have all been guilty of sending e-mails to the incorrect addressee and failing to proofread computer documents and online correspondence. For those who post blogs or comment on other blogs and articles, there are countless instances of people not taking the time to review everything they post.
It turns out, however, that in today’s world, blogs are considered more and more like newsprint and mass media. As such, many of the same laws and limitations applicable to the latter also work with blogs. In a decision this week by the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, a federal judge dismissed a libel lawsuit against bloggers because it was not filed within the statute of limitations. The fact that there was an applicable one year statute of limitations for libel actions for this blog was not the issue. Instead, the decision considered whether the “discovery rule” for the allegedly libelous statements in the blog applied. The judge decided that the “discovery rule” did not apply, and the limitation ran from when the blog was published, rather than when the plaintiff learned of the blog post.
So, in other words, 1) watch what you say in blogs because you can just as easily get sued for defamation or other torts and 2) if you do say something potentially defamatory about someone, do it in a blog with a lesser circulation that will not get discovered by that person.