San Francisco, California

May 7, 1970

Dear ___________:

Thank you for your letter of April 20, 1970, regarding the advertisement for the book Don’t Bank On It! in the Wall Street Journal of April 17, 1970.

We do not believe that the kind of statement in the advertisement which you quote in your letter is the kind of statement that Financial Code Section 3369 is intended to prohibit. To constitute a violation under Section 3369, a statement, among other things, must be reasonably understood as referring to a bank doing business in this State. Under the law of defamation, a statement that is defamatory of a class is not actionable by a member of the class unless the class is so small that the statement may reasonably be interpreted as applying to each member. To use the classic example, one may say with impunity, “All lawyers are shysters.” Similarly, Section 3369 cannot be invoked to prohibit a writer from attacking banks generally.

We appreciate your calling this matter to our attention. If you come across any statement in the book that seems to be in violation of Section 3369, please let us know.

Very truly yours,

Superintendent of Banks


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