Defamation Of Character Lawsuit

– Libel Slander Or Both

By: - Legal - May 2, 2011
defamation of character lawsuit

A major challenge facing Plaintiffs in a defamation of character lawsuit, other than the protection afforded by free speech is that a malicious opinion, no matter its severity, is not a stated fact. Examples of opinion and fact could be seen in the phrases “I think” and “I know”. However, the proving of a stated fact in a defamation lawsuit is also dependent on the actual truth of a statement. The question is arguably, that for any defamation of character to be proven, the alleged injured party must already have a character that can in fact be defamed.

Records indicate that very few Plaintiffs who institute a defamation of character lawsuit actually end in a court trial. In general, they settled out of court, with the objective of avoiding further damage from any ensuing publicity. In the event of a court procedure, some cases are dismissed, due to the Plaintiff being unable to show proof of the alleged actual damage caused.

Alternatively, statements and the accusations made in a defamation lawsuit, do not meet the required level, to prove that slander or libel were committed. It is not sufficient in some instances that hurt feelings or the loss of social perception or standing, meet the legal definition of damages.

In a general context, the interpretation of defamation is a false statement relating to another person, causing that party to suffer harm or damage. In a defamation lawsuit, the action of slander could be interpreted in the issuing of defamatory statements, usually of a spoken nature. The term libel, would involve defamatory statements being made in print or other fixed mediums, for example newspapers or magazines.

An absolute defense to a defamation of character lawsuit is the truth of the statement allegedly made. On form of defense that is also generally recognized, particularly in the legal profession and politics, is the law of “privilege”. This form of defense can relate to statements and arguments in court, made and conducted by witnesses and attorneys. Furthermore, it would include statements by legislators on the floor of the legislature and by judges sitting on the court bench.

A statement is viewed as an expression of fact or opinion and can depend on the context in which the person making the statement is perceived by the community of being in a position to know whether. In some instances, jurisdictions have eliminated the distinction between fact and opinion. Instead, it is held that any statement suggesting a factual basis can support a cause of action for defamation.


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