California Code, Civil Code - CIV § 48a




(a) In any action for damages for the publication of a libel in a daily or weekly news publication, or of a slander by radio broadcast, plaintiff shall only recover special damages unless a correction is demanded and is not published or broadcast, as provided in this section.  Plaintiff shall serve upon the publisher at the place of publication, or broadcaster at the place of broadcast, a written notice specifying the statements claimed to be libelous and demanding that those statements be corrected.  The notice and demand must be served within 20 days after knowledge of the publication or broadcast of the statements claimed to be libelous.

(b) If a correction is demanded within 20 days and is not published or broadcast in substantially as conspicuous a manner in the same daily or weekly news publication, or on the same broadcasting station as were the statements claimed to be libelous, in a regular issue thereof published or broadcast within three weeks after service, plaintiff, if he or she pleads and proves notice, demand and failure to correct, and if his or her cause of action is maintained, may recover general, special, and exemplary damages.  Exemplary damages shall not be recovered unless the plaintiff proves that defendant made the publication or broadcast with actual malice and then only in the discretion of the court or jury, and actual malice shall not be inferred or presumed from the publication or broadcast.

(c) A correction published or broadcast in substantially as conspicuous a manner in the daily or weekly news publication, or on the broadcasting station as the statements claimed in the complaint to be libelous, before receipt of a demand for correction, shall be of the same force and effect as though the correction had been published or broadcast within three weeks after a demand for correction.

(d) As used in this section, the following definitions shall apply:

(1) “General damagesmeans damages for loss of reputation, shame, mortification, and hurt feelings.

(2) “Special damagesmeans all damages that plaintiff alleges and proves that he or she has suffered in respect to his or her property, business, trade, profession, or occupation, including the amounts of money the plaintiff alleges and proves he or she has expended as a result of the alleged libel, and no other.

(3) “Exemplary damagesmeans damages that may in the discretion of the court or jury be recovered in addition to general and special damages for the sake of example and by way of punishing a defendant who has made the publication or broadcast with actual malice.

(4) “Actual malicemeans that state of mind arising from hatred or ill will toward the plaintiff; provided, however, that a state of mind occasioned by a good faith belief on the part of the defendant in the truth of the libelous publication or broadcast at the time it is published or broadcast shall not constitute actual malice.

(5) “Daily or weekly news publication” means a publication, either in print or electronic form, that contains news on matters of public concern and that publishes at least once a week.


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