California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

1708. Coerced Self-Publication

[Name of plaintiff] claims that [name of defendant] is responsible for [his/her] harm even though [name of defendant] did not communicate the statement(s) to anyone other than [name of plaintiff]. To succeed, [name of plaintiff] must prove all of the following:

1. That [name of defendant] made the statement(s) to [name of plaintiff];

2. That [name of plaintiff] was under strong pressure to communicate [name of defendant]’s statement(s) to another person; and

3. That when [name of defendant] made the statements, [he/ she] should have known that [name of plaintiff] would be under strong pressure to communicate them to another person.

If [name of plaintiff] has proved all of the above, then you must find that [name of defendant] was responsible for the communication of the statement(s).

New September 2003

Sources and Authority

  • The general rule is that “[a] plaintiff cannot manufacture a defamation cause of action by publishing the statements to third persons; the publication must be done by the defendant.” The exception to the rule occurs “when it [is] foreseeable that the defendant’s act would result in plaintiff’s publication to a third person.” (Live Oak Publishing Co. v. Cohagan (1991) 234 Cal.App.3d 1277, 1284 [286 Cal.Rptr. 198].)
  • [A] “self-publication of the alleged defamatory statement may be imputed to the originator of the statement if ‘the person defamed is operating under a strong compulsion to republish the defamatory statement and the circumstances which create the strong compulsion are known to the originator of the defamatory statement at the time he communicates it to the person defamed.’ ” (Davis v. Consolidated Freightways (1994) 29 Cal.App.4th 354, 373 [34 Cal.Rptr.2d 438], quoting McKinney v. County of Santa Clara (1980) 110 Cal.App.3d 787, 797—798 [168 Cal.Rptr. 89].)
  • “This exception has been limited to a narrow class of cases, usually where a plaintiff is compelled to republish the statements in aid of disproving them.” (Live Oak Publishing Co., supra, 234 Cal.App.3d at p. 1285.)
  • To determine if the coercion exception applies, the test is “whether ‘because of some necessity he was under to communicate the matter to others, it was reasonably to be anticipated that he would do so.’ ” (Live Oak Publishing Co., supra, 234 Cal.App.3d at p. 1285.)

Secondary Sources

5 Witkin, Summary of California Law (10th ed. 2005) Torts, §§ 537, 616

14 California Points and Authorities, Ch. 142, Libel and Slander (Defamation), § 142.22 (Matthew Bender)

1 California Civil Practice: Torts (Thomson West) § 21:15