move as far in the direction of protecting private reputation as Gertz allows. Chapadeau, supra, at 63, 341 N.E.2d at 570. Rather, it held that "where the content of the article is arguably within the sphere of legitimate public concern, which is reasonably related to matters warranting public exposition, the party defamed may recover" if he or she can establish "by a preponderance of the evidence, that the publisher acted in a grossly irresponsible manner without due consideration for the standards of information gathering and dissemination ordinarily followed by responsible parties." Id. at 64, 341 N.E.2d at 571. As already noted, defendant contends, and plaintiffs do not dispute, that Chapadeau's gross irresponsibility standard would apply in this case were New York law to govern. However, neither side takes note of the clauses limiting the application of that standard to matters "arguably within the sphere of legitimate public concern" and "reasonably related to matters warranting public exposition." Id. Failing to recite this language, defendant musters no reason why I should conclude that the New York Court of Appeals would find that the defamatory statements alleged here fall within Chapadeau's "arguably ... public" subject-matter boundaries.
The New York courts have yet to determine the applicable standard for private figure defamation about matters that are not "arguably within the sphere of legitimate public concern." No published article has been held not to be "arguably ... of legitimate public concern."
However, all of the reported cases decided under Chapadeau thus far have involved reportage in some form, and none that I have uncovered has involved the domain of a private individual's sexual life or any other facet of his or her intimate relations. I am satisfied that the New York Court of Appeals would hold that the defamatory statements alleged here are not-even "arguably"-"within the sphere of legitimate public concern."
I am less certain in prophesying what standard the Court of Appeals would hold applicable in this category of cases. Were I confident that the court would apply what would appear to be the Gertz maximum, i.e., a negligence standard, then I might conclude this matter by holding, contrary to the perceptions of the parties, that no conflict exists in this case between New York's and Pennsylvania's libel laws, and that, therefore, Pennsylvania law, as the law of the forum, applies. I am reasonably certain that the Court of Appeals would hold applicable some standard more protective of plaintiffs than Chapadeau's gross irresponsibility standard. But, as to what standard, I note that in Chapadeau the Court chose "to follow a path of its own," embracing neither the New York Times standard nor a negligence standard, but one that "falls somewhere between" those two.
In light of that, it is conceivable that the court would adopt a second intermediate standard of liability for defamation cases like the one before me, a standard more protective of plaintiffs than the Chapadeau standard, but less so than a simple common law negligence standard.
Accordingly, I have chosen to treat this matter as one in which a conflict of laws potentially does exist, and I have found sufficient, for the purpose of disposing of the choice-of-law issue, the tentative conclusions reached above about what would be the controlling New York law.
Because this is a diversity case, selection of the applicable body of substantive law must be made in accordance with the choice-of-law principles which have commended themselves to the courts of Pennsylvania. Day & Zimmermann, Inc. v. Challoner, 423 U.S. 3, 96 S. Ct. 167, 46 L. Ed. 2d 3 (1975); Klaxon Co. v. Stentor Electric Mfg. Co., 313 U.S. 487, 61 S. Ct. 1020, 85 L. Ed. 1477 (1941).
Contemporary choice-of-law doctrine in Pennsylvania emanates from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's decision in Griffith v. United Air Lines, Inc., 416 Pa. 1, 203 A.2d 796 (1964). See also McSwain v. McSwain, 420 Pa. 86, 215 A.2d 677 (1966); Kuchinic v. McCrory, 422 Pa. 620, 222 A.2d 897 (1966); Cipolla v. Shaposka, 439 Pa. 563, 267 A.2d 854 (1970). Griffith and its progeny reject the venerable but outmoded lex loci deliciti, articulating instead an approach which calls for application of "the law of the state having the most significant contacts or relationships with the particular issue." Griffith, supra, 203 A.2d at 802. Under the Pennsylvania approach to choice-of-law problems, what is required in this case is a determination of which state-Pennsylvania or New York-"has demonstrated, by reason of its policies and their connection and relevance to the matter in dispute, a priority of interest in the application of its rule of law." McSwain, supra, 215 A.2d at 682.
As I have already noted, plaintiffs advance the argument for Pennsylvania law. They rely on the fact that they are domiciled in Pennsylvania, and maintain that this is where they have suffered injury to their personal and professional reputations, as well as to their business interests and social contacts.
In plaintiffs' view, these contacts are significant in light of the policies and interests underlying the law of defamation.
Defamation laws are undergirded by the state's interest in protecting the individual reputations of its citizens. The interest in reputation has been described as both a property interest-a good reputation is a valuable asset in one's business or profession, see Eldredge, The Law of Defamation (1978) at 2-and as an interest in preserving the dignity of the individual:
The legitimate state interest underlying the law of libel is the compensation of individuals for the harm inflicted on them by defamatory falsehood. We would not lightly require the State to abandon this purpose, for, as Mr. Justice Stewart has reminded us, the individual's right to the protection of his own good name