"We ... vacate the judgment due to the court's premature pretrial decision on the linchpin public-official issue. Summary judgment is proper only when it is appropriately timed — and, given the lack of factual development in the summary judgment record, the timing here was inauspicious."The 1st Circuit sent the case back to the district court for a new trial.
The case grew out of a 2003 Phoenix report on child-custody disputes involving accusations of child abuse. It included a report on a Maryland custody battle in which Mandel's former wife accused him of being a child molester. On summary judgment, the district court ruled that Mandel was not a public figure. The case went to trial and the jury awarded Mandel $950,000.
[Thanks to How Appealing for the pointer.]