Damages for Derogatory Remarks against a Collective

This article reports on the ruling of the OLG Karlsruhe of April 13, 2007 (re 14 U 11/07 1) answering the question if you can collect damages from a civil wrong or “tort of insult” when not you personally but the collective, you belong to, has been addressed. “Collective” is used in this circumstance as an undefined number of persons.


Many physicians picketed on a nationwide protest day against a planned reform of the public health-care system. On December 4, 2006, many physicians closed their practices. Patients had to search for a physician to treat them or for an open pharmacy on that day. A spokesperson of the Federal Ministry of Health mentioned as followed in an interview broadcasted on a public radio station.

“It bugs me that patients or sick persons are being extorted just because physicians want more money. There is no professional group that so brutally takes advantage of persons whenever their own income is in question. (summarized comment – editor’s remark)”.

The plaintiff, a physician, who was offended by this comment, considered this to be like being compared with felons. Such an insult could not be tolerated. He admonished the spokesperson demanding forbearance for the future. The defendant refused. The court denied there were grounds for damages.

The court pointed out that a comparison with felons could not be seen. The wording “being extorted” is actually to be understood as the figurative description that the physicians’ demonstration is carried out at the expense of the patients. This description is apparently to place political pressure in the reform movement. The wording “extortion” might be harsh but it is to be accepted within political discussion. Another argument was that insulting a group is never the insult of one of its members.

Published on the old CMS: 2007/6/14
Read on the old CMS till November 2008: 1,324 reads

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