Respected Ipswich solicitor Brett Smith has been knocked back in a defamation damages ask against the former husband of his daughter-in-law.
Ken Lucht was found to have made defamatory imputations against Smith by referring to him as Dennis Denuto, the suburban Melbourne solicitor who – as an accidental hero – scores a landmark victory in the High Court in the 1997 Australian movie hit The Castle.
The circumstances of the publication of the defamation comments – on three occasions among family – made it unlikely that Smith would sustain any harm as a result.
The court therefore upheld Lucht’s defence of “triviality” because none of the family members present “thought any less of Smith personally or professionally” because of them.
“Imputations were made in the heat of the moment to a very small audience who did not apprehend them as defamatory and in circumstances where all involved were in dispute over family matters,” ruled the court.
Smith’s claim was refused and his appeal dismissed.