Ohio court finds no libel in falsely labeling student as ‘gay’

The Ohio Court of Appeals in October upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by a student who sued his classmates for defamation, invasion of privacy and civil conspiracy when they put up posters falsely describing him as being gay.

Jeffrey Wilson, a student at Case Western Reserve University, sued three classmates in April 2004 because they posted fliers in a dorm with his picture and contact information titled “In Search of Male Companion,” according to the decision.

The Court of Appeals upheld the trial court’s dismissal of the lawsuit.

“In the instant case, publicizing that someone is a homosexual is not libel per se because being a homosexual is not a crime nor is it a disease. Additionally, being a homosexual would not tend to injure a person in his trade or occupation,” according to the decision.

Wilson had testified that he was embarrassed, humiliated and ridiculed because of the creation of the fliers, according to the decision. He also testified that he suffered a loss in reputation, loss of time and a lower grade point average.

The court determined that Wilson was unable to prove these damages, the decision said.

Attorney Robert Wilson refused to comment about whether or not Jeffrey Wilson would appeal the decision.

Case: Wilson v. Harvey, No. 85829, 2005 WL 2807253 (Ohio App. 8 Dist. Oct. 27, 2005).