Study Questions
1. According to the review of the facts, on what legal claim did the district court initially award Food Lion $5.5 million in punitive damages? Was this amount later reduced by the district court?

2. What did the appellate court rule concerning Food Lion's fraud claim? Why reasoning do they provide?

3. Does the appellate court agree the district court that there was breach of duty involved? If so, what damages were assessed?

4. Did the appellate court agree with the district court that the reporters may be found liable for trespass? If so, what damages were assessed?

5. Do the punitive damages against Food Lion remain in effect as a result of the appellate court's review? Why or why not?

6. Does the court believe that breach of duty or trespass claims made by Food Lion unfairly single out the press?

7. Last but not least, may Food Lion use non-reputational torts to recover damages that resulted from the publication of the PrimeTime Live segment? In the same vein, why didn't Food Lion originally sue for libel?


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FOOD LION, INCORPORATED, Plaintiff-Appellee,





Appeals from the United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, at Winston-Salem. N. Carlton Tilley, Jr., Chief District Judge. (CA-92-592-6)


Argued: June 4, 1998

Decided: October 20, 1999


Before NIEMEYER, MICHAEL, and MOTZ, Circuit Judges.


MICHAEL, Circuit Judge:



Two ABC television reporters, after using false resumes to get jobs at Food Lion, Inc. supermarkets, secretly videotaped what appeared to be unwholesome food handling practices. Some of the video footage was used by ABC in a PrimeTime Live broadcast that was sharply critical of Food Lion. The grocery chain sued Capital Cities/ABC, Inc., American Broadcasting Companies, Inc., Richard Kaplan and Ira Rosen, producers of PrimeTime Live, and Lynne Dale and Susan Barnett, two reporters for the program (collectively,"ABC" or the "ABC defendants"). Food Lion did not sue for defamation, but focused on how ABC gathered its information through claims for fraud, breach of duty of loyalty, trespass, and unfair trade practices. Food Lion won at trial, and judgment for compensatory damages of $1,402 was entered on the various claims. Following a substantial (over $5 million) remittitur, the judgment provided for $315,000 in punitive damages. The ABC defendants appeal the district court's denial of their motion for judgment as a matter of law, and Food Lion appeals the court's ruling that prevented it from proving publication damages. Having considered the case, we (1) reverse the judgment that the ABC defendants committed fraud and unfair trade practices, (2) affirm the judgment that Dale and Barnett breached their duty of loyalty and committed a trespass, and (3) affirm, on First Amendment grounds, the district court's refusal to allow Food Lion to prove publi-cation damages.



In early 1992 producers of ABC's PrimeTime Live program received a report alleging that Food Lion stores were engaging in unsanitary meat-handling practices. The allegations were that Food Lion employees ground out-of-date beef together with new beef, bleached rank meat to remove its odor, and redated (and offered for sale) products not sold before their printed expiration date. The producers recognized that these allegations presented the potential for a powerful news story, and they decided to conduct an undercover investigation of Food Lion. ABC reporters Lynne Dale (Lynne Litt at the time) and Susan Barnett concluded that they would have a better chance of investigating the allegations if they could become Food Lion employees. With the approval of their superiors, they proceeded to apply for jobs with the grocery chain, submitting applications with false identities and references and fictitious local addresses. Notably, the applications failed to mention the reporters' concurrent employ-ment with ABC and otherwise misrepresented their educational and employment experiences. Based on these applications, a South Carolina Food Lion store hired Barnett as a deli clerk in April 1992, and a North Carolina Food Lion store hired Dale as a meat wrapper trainee in May 1992.
Barnett worked for Food Lion for two weeks, and Dale for only one week. As they went about their assigned tasks for Food Lion, Dale and Barnett used tiny cameras ("lipstick" cameras, for example) and microphones concealed on their bodies to secretly record Food Lion employees treating, wrapping and labeling meat, cleaning machinery, and discussing the practices of the meat department. They gathered footage from the meat cutting room, the deli counter, the employee break room, and a manager's office. All told, in their three collective weeks as Food Lion employees, Dale and Barnett recorded approximately 45 hours of concealed camera footage.
Some of the videotape was eventually used in a November 5, 1992, broadcast of PrimeTime Live. ABC contends the footage confirmed many of the allegations initially leveled against Food Lion. The broadcast included, for example, videotape that appeared to show Food Lion employees repackaging and redating fish that had passed the expiration date, grinding expired beef with fresh beef, and applying barbeque sauce to chicken past its expiration date in order to mask the smell and sell it as fresh in the gourmet food section. The program included statements by former Food Lion employees alleging even more serious mishandling of meat at Food Lion stores across several states. The truth of the PrimeTime Live broadcast was not an issue in the litigation we now describe.
Food Lion sued ABC and the PrimeTime Live producers and reporters. Food Lion's suit focused not on the broadcast, as a defamation suit would, but on the methods ABC used to obtain the video footage. The grocery chain asserted claims of fraud, breach of the duty of loyalty, trespass, and unfair trade practices, seeking millions in compensatory damages. Specifically, Food Lion sought to recover (1) administrative costs and wages paid in connection with the employment of Dale and Barnett and (2) broadcast (publication) damages for matters such as loss of good will, lost sales and profits, and diminished stock value. Punitive damages were also requested by Food Lion.
The district court, in a remarkably efficient effort, tried the case with a jury in three phases. At the liability phase, the jury found all of the ABC defendants liable to Food Lion for fraud and two of them, Dale and Barnett, additionally liable for breach of the duty of loyalty and trespass.
Prior to the compensatory damages phase, the district court ruled that damages allegedly incurred by Food Lion as a result of ABC's broadcast of PrimeTime Live--"lost profits, lost sales, diminished stock value or anything of that nature"--could not be recovered because these damages were not proximately caused by the acts (fraud, trespass, etc.) attributed to the ABC defendants in this case. Operating within this constraint, the jury in the second phase awarded Food Lion $1,400 in compensatory damages on its fraud claim, $1.00 each on its duty of loyalty and trespass claims, and $1,500 on its fraud claim. At the final stage the jury lowered the boom and awarded $5,545,750 in punitive damages on the fraud claim against ABC and its two producers, Kaplan and Rosen. The jury refused to award punitive damages against the reporters, Dale and Barnett. In post-trial proceedings the district court ruled that the punitive damages award was excessive, and Food Lion accepted a remittitur to a total of $315,000.
After trial the ABC defendants moved for judgment as a matter of law on all claims, the motion was denied, and the defendants now appeal. Food Lion cross-appeals, contesting the district court's ruling that the damages the grocery chain sought as a result of the PrimeTime Live broadcast were not recoverable in this action. We now turn to the legal issues.




We must first consider whether the ABC defendants can be held liable for fraud, breach of the duty of loyalty, and trespass as a matter of North Carolina and South Carolina law and whether the North Carolina Unfair Trade Practices Act (UPTA) applies
1. Fraud
Food Lion, proceeding under the proof limitations on damages, sought $2,432.35 in compensatory damages on its fraud claim and the jury awarded $1,400. According to ABC, the district court erred in upholding the verdict on this claim because Food Lion did not prove injury caused by reasonable reliance on the misrepresentations made by Dale and Barnett on their job applications. We agree.
To prove fraud under North Carolina law, the plaintiff must establish that the defendant (1) made a false representation of material fact, (2) knew it was false (or made it with reckless disregard of its truth or falsity), and (3) intended that the plaintiff rely upon it. In addition, (4) the plaintiff must be injured by reasonably relying on the false representation. It is undisputed that Dale and Barnett knowingly made misrepresentations with the aim that Food Lion rely on them. Thus, only the fourth element of fraud, injurious reliance, is at issue. Food Lion claimed two categories of injury resulting from the lies on the job applications: the costs associated with hiring and training new employees (administrative costs) and the wages it paid to Dale and Barnett.
The main component of Food Lion's claim for fraud damages relates to administrative costs resulting from its employment of Dale and Barnett. These are routine costs associated with any new employee, including the costs of screening applications, interviewing, completing forms, and entering data into the payroll system. Also included are estimated costs attributable to trainees for lower productivity and customer dissatisfaction. Food Lion offered testimony that these costs totaled $1,944.62. It is undisputed that the jobs held by Dale and Barnett, meat wrapper trainee and deli clerk, were ones with high turnover. Still, Food Lion claims that because of the reporters' misrepresentations on their employment applications, it was forced to "incur these [administrative] costs for two more employees," Appellee's Opening Br. at 15, because the reporters quit their jobs after one or two weeks.
As indicated, under North and South Carolina law a plaintiff claiming fraud must show injury proximately caused by its reasonable reli-nce on a misrepresentation. In this case, therefore, Food Lion had to show (1) that it hired Dale and Barnett (and incurred the administrative costs incident to their employment) because it believed they would work longer than a week or two and (2) that in forming this belief it reasonably relied on misrepresentations made by Dale and Barnett.
On their job applications Dale and Barnett did misrepresent matters such as their backgrounds, experience, and other employment. They did not, however, make any representations about how long they would work, and Food Lion did not ask for any. To the contrary, the applications signed by Dale and Barnett expressly provided that either side--company or employee--could terminate the employment at any time. Each application contained the same provision, written in no uncertain terms: "I also understand and agree that if employed, employment is for an indefinite period of time, and that I have the right to terminate my employment at any time for any reason, as does the Company." Food Lion also understood what this meant. As one of its payroll managers acknowledged on cross-examination, "when Food Lion hires a new deli clerk or a new meat clerk ... it assume[s] the risk that that person might stay only a few days." Dale and Barnett were, in short, at-will employees.
Because Dale and Barnett did not make any express representations about how long they would work, Food Lion is left to contend that misrepresentations in the employment applications led it to believe the two would work for some extended period. There is a fundamental problem with that contention, however. North and South Carolina are at-will employment states, and under the at-will doctrine it is unreasonable for either the employer or the employee to rely on any assumptions about the duration of employment. At-will employment means that (absent an express agreement) employers are free to discharge employees at any time for any reason, and employees are free to quit. Food Lion's claim for administrative costs attributable to Dale and Barnett is simply inconsistent with the at-will employment doctrine. Under that doctrine Food Lion could not reasonably rely on the sort of misrepresentations (about background, experience, etc.) made by the reporters to conclude that they would work for any extended period. As a result, Food Lion did not show that the administrative costs were an injury caused by reasonable reliance on the misrepresentations.
Food Lion also sought to recover the full amount ($487.73) of the wages it paid to Dale and Barnett, arguing that it was fraudulently induced to pay the wages because of the misrepresentations on the reporters' employment applications. The last (proximate cause) element of fraud is again the only one at issue: Food Lion had to show that it paid the wages in reasonable reliance on the misrepresenta-ions.
The question is what was the proximate cause of the issuance of paychecks to Dale and Barnett. Was it the resume misrepresentations or was it something else? It was something else. Dale and Barnett were paid because they showed up for work and performed their assigned tasks as Food Lion employees. Their performance was at a level suitable to their status as new, entry-level employees. Indeed, shortly before Dale quit, her supervisor said she would "make a good meat wrapper." In sum, Dale and Barnett were not paid their wages because of misrepresentations on their job applications. Food Lion therefore cannot assert wage payment to satisfy the injurious reliance element of fraud. The fraud verdict must be reversed.
2. Breach of Duty
ABC argues that Dale and Barnett cannot be held liable for a breach of duty of loyalty to Food Lion under existing tort law in North and South Carolina. It is undisputed that both reporters, on behalf of ABC, wore hidden cameras to make a video and audio record of what they saw and heard while they were employed by Food Lion. Specifically, they sought to document, for ABC's PrimeTime Live program, Food Lion employees engaging in unsanitary practices, treating products to hide spoilage, and repackaging and redating out-of-date products. The jury found that Dale and Barnett breached their duty of loyalty to Food Lion, and nominal damages of $1.00 were awarded.
Because Dale and Barnett did not compete with Food Lion, misappropriate any of its profits or opportunities, or breach its confidences, ABC argues that the reporters did not engage in any disloyal conduct that is tortious under existing law. Indeed, the district court acknowledged that it was the first court to hold that the conduct in question "would be recognized by the Supreme Courts of North Carolina and South Carolina" as tortiously violating the duty of loyalty. Food Lion, Inc. v. Capital Cities/ABC, Inc., 964 F.Supp. 956, 959 n.2 (M.D.N.C.1997). We believe the district court was correct to conclude that those courts would decide today that the reporters' conduct was sufficient to breach the duty of loyalty and trigger tort liability.
What Dale and Barnett did verges on the kind of employee activity that has already been determined to be tortious. The interests of the employer (ABC) to whom Dale and Barnett gave complete loyalty were adverse to the interests of Food Lion, the employer to whom they were unfaithful. ABC and Food Lion were not business competitors but they were adverse in a fundamental way. ABC's interest was to expose Food Lion to the public as a food chain that engaged in unsanitary and deceptive practices. Dale and Barnett served ABC's interest, at the expense of Food Lion, by engaging in the taping for ABC while they were on Food Lion's payroll. In doing this, Dale and Barnett did not serve Food Lion faithfully, and their interest (which was the same as ABC's) was diametrically opposed to Food Lion's. In these circumstances, we believe that the highest courts of North and South Carolina would hold that the reporters--in promoting the interests of one master, ABC, to the detriment of a second, Food Lion-- committed the tort of disloyalty against Food Lion.
Our holding on this point is not a sweeping one. An employee does not commit a tort simply by holding two jobs or by performing a second job inadequately. For example, a second employer has no tort action for breach of the duty of loyalty when its employee fails to devote adequate attention or effort to her second (night shift) job because she is tired. That is because the inadequate performance is simply an incident of trying to work two jobs. There is no intent to act adversely to the second employer for the benefit of the first. Cf. Long, 439 S.E.2d at 802 (finding disloyalty when employee "deliber-ately" acquired an interest adverse to his employer). Because Dale and Barnett had the requisite intent to act against the interests of their second employer, Food Lion, for the benefit of their main employer, ABC, they were liable in tort for their disloyalty.
We hold that, insofar as North and South Carolina law is concerned, the district court did not err in refusing to set aside the jury's verdict that Dale and Barnett breached their duty of loyalty to Food Lion.
3. Trespass
ABC argues that it was error to allow the jury to hold Dale and Barnett liable for trespass on either of the independent grounds (1) that Food Lion's consent to their presence as employees was void because it was based on misrepresentations or (2) that Food Lion's consent was vitiated when Dale and Barnett breached the duty of loyalty. The jury found Dale and Barnett liable on both of these grounds and awarded Food Lion $1.00 in nominal damages, which is all that was sought in the circumstances.
In North and South Carolina, as elsewhere, it is a trespass to enter upon another's land without consent. See, e.g., Smith v. VonCannon, 197 S.E.2d 524, 528 (N.C.1973); Snow v. City of Columbia, 409 S.E.2d 797, 802 (S.C.Ct.App.1991). Accordingly, consent is a defense to a claim of trespass. See, e.g., Miller v. Brooks, 472 S.E.2d 350, 355 (N.C.Ct.App.1996), review denied, 483 S.E.2d 172 (N.C.1997). Even consent gained by misrepresentation is sometimes sufficient. See Desnick v. American Broad. Cos., 44 F.3d 1345, 1351-52 (7th Cir.1995) (Posner, C.J.). The consent to enter is canceled out, however, "if a wrongful act is done in excess of and in abuse of authorized entry." Miller, 472 S.E.2d at 355 (citing Blackwood v. Cates, 254 S.E.2d 7, 9 (N.C.1979)). Cf. Ravan v. Greenville County, 434 S.E.2d 296, 306 (S.C.Ct.App.1993) (noting that the law of tres-pass protects the "peaceable possession" of property).
We turn first to whether Dale and Barnett's consent to be in nonpublic areas of Food Lion property was void from the outset because of the resume misrepresentations. "[C]onsent to an entry is often given legal effect" even though it was obtained by misrepresentation or concealed intentions. Desnick, 44 F.3d at 1351. Without this result, a restaurant critic could not conceal his identity when he ordered a meal, or a browser pretend to be interested in merchandise that he could not afford to buy. Dinner guests would be trespassers if they were false friends who never would have been invited had the host known their true character, and a consumer who in an effort to bargain down an automobile dealer falsely claimed to be able to buy the same car elsewhere at a lower price would be a trespasser in a dealer's showroom.
Of course, many cases on the spectrum become much harder than these examples, and the courts of North and South Carolina have not considered the validity of a consent to enter land obtained by misrepresentation. Further, the various jurisdictions and authorities in this country are not of one mind in dealing with the issue. Compare Restatement (Second) of Torts, 892B(2) (1965) ("[i]f the person consenting to the conduct of another ... is induced [to consent] by the other's misrepresentation, the consent is not effective for the unexpected invasion or harm") and Shiffman v. Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield, 681 N.Y.S.2d 511, 512 (App.Div.1998) (reporter who gained entry to medical office by posing as potential patient using false identification and insurance cards could not assert consent as defense to trespass claim "since consent obtained by misrepresenta-tion or fraud is invalid"), with Desnick, 44 F.3d at 1351- 53 (ABC agents with concealed cameras who obtained consent to enter an oph- thalmic clinic by pretending to be patients were not trespassers because, among other things, they "entered offices open to anyone"); Baugh v. CBS, Inc., 828 F.Supp. 745, 757 (N.D.Cal.1993) ("where consent was fraudulently induced, but consent was nonetheless given, plaintiff has no claim for trespass").
We like Desnick's thoughtful analysis about when a consent to enter that is based on misrepresentation may be given effect. In Desnick ABC sent persons posing as patients needing eye care to the plaintiffs' eye clinics, and the test patients secretly recorded their examinations. Some of the recordings were used in a PrimeTime Live segment that alleged intentional misdiagnosis and unnecessary cataract surgery. Desnick held that although the test patients misrepresented their purpose, their consent to enter was still valid because they did not invade "any of the specific interests[relating to peaceable pos- session of land] the tort of trespass seeks to protect:" the test patients entered offices "open to anyone expressing a desire for ophthalmic services" and videotaped doctors engaged in professional discussions with strangers, the testers; the testers did not disrupt the offices or invade anyone's private space; and the testers did not reveal the "inti-mate details of anybody's life." 44 F.3d at 1352-53.
We return to the jury's first trespass finding in this case, which rested on a narrow ground. The jury found that Dale and Barnett were trespassers because they entered Food Lion's premises as employees with consent given because of the misrepresentations in their job applications. Although the consent cases as a class are inconsistent, we have not found any case suggesting that consent based on a resume misrepresentation turns a successful job applicant into a trespasser the moment she enters the employer's premises to begin work. Moreover, if we turned successful resume fraud into trespass, we would not be protecting the interest underlying the tort of trespass--the ownership and peaceable possession of land. The jury's finding of trespass therefore cannot be sustained on the grounds of resume misrepresentation.
There is a problem, however, with what Dale and Barnett did after they entered Food Lion's property. The jury also found that the reporters committed trespass by breaching their duty of loyalty to Food Lion "as a result of pursuing [their] investigation for ABC." We affirm the finding of trespass on this ground because the breach of duty of loyalty--triggered by the filming in non-public areas, which was adverse to Food Lion--was a wrongful act in excess of Dale and Barnett's authority to enter Food Lion's premises as employees. See generally Blackwood, 254 S.E.2d at 9 (finding liability for trespass when activity on property exceeded scope of consent to enter).
The Court of Appeals of North Carolina has indicated that secretly installing a video camera in someone's private home can be a wrongful act in excess of consent given to enter. In the trespass case of Miller v. Brooks the (defendant) wife, who claimed she had consent to enter her estranged husband's (the plaintiff's) house, had a private detective place a video camera in the ceiling of her husband's bed-room. The court noted that "[e]ven an authorized entry can be trespass if a wrongful act is done in excess of and in abuse of authorized entry." Miller, 472 S.E.2d at 355. The court went on to hold that "[e]ven if [the wife] had permission to enter the house and to autho-rize others to do so," it was a jury question"whether defendants' entries exceeded the scope of any permission given." Id. We recog-nize that Miller involved a private home, not a grocery store, and that it involved some physical alteration to the plaintiff's property (instal-lation of a camera). Still, we believe the general principle is applicable here, at least in the case of Dale, who worked in a Food Lion store in North Carolina. Although Food Lion consented to Dale's entry to do her job, she exceeded that consent when she videotaped in non-public areas of the store and worked against the interests of her sec-ond employer, Food Lion, in doing so.
We do not have a case comparable to Miller from South Carolina. Nevertheless, the South Carolina courts make clear that the law of trespass protects the peaceable enjoyment of property. See Ravan, 434 S.E.2d at 306. It is consistent with that principle to hold that consent to enter is vitiated by a wrongful act that exceeds and abuses the privilege of entry.
Here, both Dale and Barnett became employees of Food Lion with the certain consequence that they would breach their implied promises to serve Food Lion faithfully. They went into areas of the stores that were not open to the public and secretly videotaped, an act that was directly adverse to the interests of their second employer, Food Lion. Thus, they breached the duty of loyalty, thereby committing a wrongful act in abuse of their authority to be on Food Lion's property.
Accordingly, as far as North and South Carolina law is concerned, the jury's trespass verdict should be sustained.
4. Unfair Trade Practices Act
Dale worked in a Food Lion store in North Carolina. Based on the jury's finding of fraud and a special interrogatory, the district court determined that ABC and Dale were liable under the North Carolina UTPA, N.C. Gen.Stat. 75-1.1. Because Food Lion elected to take damages on the fraud claim, the district court awarded no damages on the UTPA claim. ABC argues that the Act does not apply to the circumstances of this case, and we agree.
North Carolina's UTPA prohibits "[u]nfair methods of competi-tion" and "unfair or deceptive acts or practices" that are "in or affecting commerce." N.C. Gen.Stat. 75-1.1(a)."Commerce" is defined to include "all business activities, however denominated." N.C. Gen.Stat. 75-1.1(b). Food Lion contends that Dale's misrepresentations on her job application were "deceptive acts" "in or affecting com-merce" because they were made to further the production of PrimeTime Live, a business activity.
Although the UTPA's language is quite broad, "the Act is not intended to apply to all wrongs in a business setting." HAJMM Co. v. House of Raeford Farms, Inc., 403 S.E.2d 483, 492 (N.C.1991). The Act's primary purpose is to protect the consuming public. It gives a private cause of action to consumers aggrieved by unfair or deceptive business practices. In addition, businesses are sometimes allowed to assert UTPA claims against other businesses because"unfair trade practices involving only businesses" can "affect the consumer as well." United Labs., Inc. v. Kuykendall, 370 S.E.2d 375, 389 (N.C.1988). But one business is permitted to assert an UTPA claim against another business only when the businesses are competitors (or poten-tial competitors) or are engaged in commercial dealings with each other.
The district court found an UTPA violation because ABC is a business that engaged in deception. However, the deception--the mis-representations in Dale's application--did not harm the consuming public. We therefore reverse the district court's judgment that the ABC defendants, including Dale, were liable under the North Carolina UTPA.

B. First Amendment & Newsgathering

ABC argues that even if state tort law covers some of Dale and Barnett's conduct, the district court erred in refusing to subject Food Lion's claims to any level of First Amendment scrutiny. ABC makes this argument because Dale and Barnett were engaged in newsgather-ing for PrimeTime Live. It is true that there are "First Amendment interests in newsgathering." In re Shain, 978 F.2d 850, 855 (4th Cir.1992) (Wilkinson J., concurring). See also Branzburg v. Hayes, 408 U.S. 665, 681 (1972) ("without some protection for seeking out the news, freedom of the press could be eviscerated."). However, the Supreme Court has said in no uncertain terms that"generally applicable laws do not offend the First Amendment simply because their enforcement against the press has incidental effects on its ability to gather and report the news." Cohen v. Cowles Media Co., 501 U.S. 663, 669 (1991);
The torts Dale and Barnett committed, breach of the duty of loyalty and trespass, fit neatly into the Cowles framework. Neither tort targets or singles out the press. Each applies to the daily transactions of the citizens of North and South Carolina. If, for example, an employee of a competing grocery chain hired on with Food Lion and videotaped damaging information in Food Lion's non-public areas for later disclosure to the public, these tort laws would apply with the same force as they do against Dale and Barnett here. Nor do we believe that applying these laws against the media will have more than an "inci-dental effect" on newsgathering. See Cowles, 501 U.S. at 669, 671-72. We are convinced that the media can do its important job effectively without resort to the commission of run-of-the-mill torts.

C. Awarding of punitive damages dropped

For the foregoing reasons, we affirm the judgment that Dale and Barnett breached their duty of loyalty to Food Lion and committed trespass. We likewise affirm the damages award against them for these torts in the amount of $2.00. We have already indicated that the fraud claim against all of the ABC defendants must be reversed. Because Food Lion was awarded punitive damages only on its fraud claim, the judgment awarding punitive damages cannot stand.


(publication damages)

In its cross-appeal Food Lion argues that the district court erred in refusing to allow it to use its non-reputational tort claims (breach of duty of loyalty, trespass, etc.) to recover compensatory damages for ABC's broadcast of the PrimeTime Live program that targeted Food Lion. The publication damages Food Lion sought (or alleged) were for items relating to its reputation, such as loss of good will and lost sales. The district court determined that the publication damages claimed by Food Lion "were the direct result of diminished consumer confidence in the store" and that "it was[Food Lion's] food handling practices themselves--not the method by which they were recorded or published--which caused the loss of consumer confidence." Food Lion, Inc. v. Capital Cities/ABC, Inc., 964 F.Supp. 956, 963 (M.D.N.C.1997).
The court therefore concluded that the publication damages were not proximately caused by the non-reputational torts committed by ABC's employees. We do not reach the matter of proximate cause because an overriding (and settled) First Amendment principle precludes the award of publication damages in this case, as ABC has argued to the district court and to us. Food Lion attempted to avoid the First Amendment limitations on defamation claims by seeking publication damages under non-reputational tort claims, while holding to the normal state law proof standards for these torts. This is precluded by Hustler Magazine v. Falwell, 485 U.S. 46 (1988).
Food Lion acknowledges that it did not sue for defamation because its "ability to bring an action for defamation ... required proof that ABC acted with actual malice." Appellee's Opening Br. at 44. Food Lion thus understood that if it sued ABC for defamation it would have to prove that the PrimeTime Live broadcast contained a false statement of fact that was made with "actual malice," that is, with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard as to whether it was true or false. See New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254, 279-80 (1964). It is clear that Food Lion was not prepared to offer proof meeting the New York Times standard under any claim that it might assert. What Food Lion sought to do, then, was to recover defamation-type damages under non-reputational tort claims, without satisfying the stricter (First Amendment) standards of a defamation claim. We believe that such an end-run around First Amendment strictures is foreclosed by Hustler.
In Hustler a popular liquor advertisement prompted the magazine to run a parody of the ad, labeled as such, that featured the Reverend Jerry Falwell "discussing" an incestuous sexual act he had undertaken while drunk in disgusting circumstances. Falwell sued the magazine and its publisher, Larry Flynt, seeking damages for libel and inten-tional infliction of emotional distress. At trial the jury held against Falwell on the libel claim, specifically finding that the ad parody could not reasonably be understood as describing actual facts about Falwell or actual events in which he participated. The jury, however, found for Falwell on the emotional distress claim and awarded com-pensatory and punitive damages.
It was clear that Falwell, in asserting the claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress, sought "damages for emotional harm caused by the publication of an ad parody offensive to him." Hustler, 485 U.S. at 50 (emphasis added). In the Supreme Court the question was whether Falwell had to satisfy the heightened First Amendment proof standard set forth in New York Times. Hustler confirms that when a public figure plaintiff uses a law to seek damages resulting from speech covered by the First Amendment, the plaintiff must satisfy the proof standard of New York Times. Here, Food Lion was not prepared to meet this standard for publication damages under any of the claims it asserted. Unless there is some way to distinguish Hustler (we think there is not, see below), Food Lion cannot sustain its request for publication damages from the ABC broadcast.
Food Lion argues that Cowles, supra, and not Hustler governs its claim for publication damages. According to Food Lion, Cowles allowed the plaintiff to recover--without satisfying the constitu-tional prerequisites to a defamation action--economic losses for publishing the plaintiff's identity in violation of a legal duty arising from generally applicable law. Food Lion says that its claim for damages is like the plaintiff's in Cowles, and not like Falwell's in Hustler. This argument fails because the Court in Cowles distinguished the damages sought there from those in Hustler in a way that also distin-guishes Food Lion's case from Cowles:
Cohen is not seeking damages for injury to his reputation or his state of mind. He sought damages ... for breach of a promise that caused him to lose his job and lowered his earning capacity. Thus, this is not a case like Hustler ... where we held that the constitutional libel standards apply to a claim alleging that the publication of a parody was a state-law tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Cowles, 501 U.S. at 671. Food Lion, in seeking compensation for matters such as loss of good will and lost sales, is claiming reputa-tional damages from publication, which the Cowles Court distin-guished by placing them in the same category as the emotional distress damages sought by Falwell in Hustler . In other words, according to Cowles, "constitutional libel standards" apply to damage claims for reputational injury from a publication such as the one here.
Food Lion also argues that because ABC obtained the videotapes through unlawful acts, that is, the torts of breach of duty of loyalty and trespass, it (Food Lion) is entitled to publication damages without meeting the New York Times standard. The Supreme Court has never suggested that it would dispense with the Times standard in this situation, and we believe Hustler indicates that the Court would not.
In sum, Food Lion could not bypass the New York Times standard if it wanted publication damages. The district court therefore reached the correct result when it disallowed these damages, although we affirm on a different ground.




To recap, we reverse the judgment to the extent it provides that the ABC defendants committed fraud and awards compensatory damages of $1,400 and punitive damages of $315,000 on that claim; we affirm the judgment to the extent it provides that Dale and Barnett breached their duty of loyalty to Food Lion and committed a trespass and awards total damages of $2.00 on those claims; we reverse the judg-ment to the extent it provides that the ABC defendants violated the North Carolina UTPA; and we affirm the district court's ruling that Food Lion was not entitled to prove publication damages on its claims.