Marinucci's question is not defamatory, although it is strange that the emphasis was on the legality of the surveillance camera footage as opposed to Pelosi's behavior.
The incident brought to mind Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who got a haircut after warning Chicagoers they can't go to hairdressers or salons in a mocking tone. Pelosi found the incident particularly embarrassing after only beating up President Donald Trump for setting a "bad example" for people to gather for his nomination speech without masks or social distancing. Pelosi was also previously criticized as the pandemic spread for calling people to Chinatown in San Francisco to demonstrate.
In this case, Pelosi suggests that she may have been defamed or portrayed in a false light by her facility, while Kious may claim to have been defamed on the basis of allegations made by a politically motivated organization. In liberal San Francisco, such a claim is particularly deadly for a company. A haircut is certainly not in the league of using crack with Marion Barry. However, in San Francisco, being accused of facilitating a Republican attack on Nancy Pelosi can be worse than facilitating a crack session with her.
Kious is likely taking a public figure Gertz v Robert Welch, Inc., 418, US 323, 352 (1974) and his descendants of cases. The Supreme Court has ruled that public figure status applies when someone “plunges into the vortex of public affairs (and attracts public attention to influence the outcome”). A person with limited public purpose status is when someone voluntarily “draws attention” or allows himself to be part of a controversy, “as the fulcrum in creating a public discussion”. Wolston v Reader & # 39; s Digest Association443, US 157, 168 (1979). Her salon owner status alone wouldn't trigger that status, but her release of the video and an interview on Fox would make her a public figure with limited public figure.
Pelosi is obviously a public figure. Indeed arguably the third most senior civil servant in the United States as third in line for the presidency.
The standard for defamation of public figures and officials in the United States is the result of a decision in the New York Times against Sullivan decades ago. Ironically, this is exactly the environment in which the opinion was drafted, and he is exactly the type of plaintiff the opinion should put off. The Supreme Court ruled that tort law cannot be used to override the First Amendment's protection of freedom of speech or the free press. The Court sought to give the media "breathing space" by formulating this standard that now applies to both civil servants and public figures. To prevail, West must show either actual knowledge of its falsehood or a ruthless disregard for the truth. The standard for defamation of public figures and officials in the United States is the result of a decision in the New York Times against Sullivan decades ago. The Supreme Court ruled that tort law cannot be used to override the First Amendment's protection of freedom of speech or the free press. The Court sought to provide "respite" by formulating this standard which now applies to both civil servants and public figures.
California recognizes libel categories per se, including the allegation of (1) a criminal offense; (2) a hideous disease; (3) Matters incompatible with his business, trade, profession or office; or (4) serious sexual misconduct. See Cal. Civ. Code § 45a; Yow v National Enquirer, Inc. 550 F.Supp.2d 1179, 1183 (E.D. Cal. 2008).
At the very least, Kious has been charged with a matter “incompatible with business, commerce, profession, or office. Pelosi was also charged with such misconduct. (I am going to leave the suggestion of crime being recorded by a party as unfounded as this is a business where surveillance cameras are usually appropriate and obvious.)
For Kious, "truth is a defense". While Pelosi said she was set up, she was breaking San Francisco law and not wearing a mask.
It will be more difficult for Pelosi. Her comments allegedly sparked threats and contributed to or caused the likely closure of the salon. Hairdresser Jonathan DeNardohas insisted that the owner know about the appointment. Kious said she found out about it after it was set up.
The truth may again be defense, but contrary to Pelosi's claim of breaking local laws, getting an inside haircut and not wearing a mark (which is clearly true), this would be a matter for a jury. It's ultimately a matter of motivation.
The fact is that it could be presented as a viable libel suit, but because of her status as a public figure, it would be difficult below the higher standard. Complicating this more is the heavy layer of political opinion during an election season. So, in my view, a defamation lawsuit is feasible but challenging.