A television reenactment of a bombing, in which a man suffered severe injury and his friend lost his life, did not give rise to claims for false light invasion of privacy or defamation, according to an Illinois federal court. Butler v. Discovery Communications, LLC, No. 12 cv 6719, mem. op. (N.D. Ill., May 9, 2013). The court found that the reenactment’s portrayal of the plaintiff, while different from the plaintiff’s account of the incident, did not portray the plaintiff in an offensive or damaging fashion, nor did it harm the plaintiff’s reputation in a manner constituting defamation.
The defendant, Discovery Communications, broadcast an episode of its show “Wicked Attraction” on June 15 and July 7, 2012, about an incident involving the plaintiff, Alphonso Butler, that occurred on February 15, 2000. Butler was with his “best friend,” Marcus Toney, that night, when Toney received a package from his estranged wife. Id. at 1. According to Butler, Toney asked him to open the package, but then stepped between Butler and the package and opened it himself. The package contained a pipe bomb that exploded when Toney opened the box. The blast killed Toney and injured Butler. Toney’s wife and her boyfriend are in prison for his murder.