A publication of a false and harmful statement may give rise to a cause of action for defamation.  For purposes of defamation law, a statement is “published” when it is made to a third party.

Slander is the making of an oral defamatory statement, and libel is the written publication of a defamatory statement.  In order to be actionable, a defamatory publication must also harm the reputation of the recipient.  Statements that are defamatory per se are presumed to cause harm to the plaintiff.  Examples of false statements that are defamatory per se include:

  • Allegations that an individual committed a crime of moral turpitude;
  • Allegations that a person carries a sexually transmitted disease;
  • Allegations that an unmarried person is unchaste;
  • Attacks on a person’s professional standing or character.

Individuals who are also public figures often receive more attention than individuals who are non-public figures.

In order to bring an action for defamation, a public figure must prove that the defamatory statement was made with “actual malice.”

In order to show that a statement was made with actual malice, a plaintiff must show that the defendant either knew that the statement was false, or that the statement was made with reckless disregard for its truth.

If you would like to speak with an attorney regarding a potential defamation claim, Contact Attorney Brendan Appel today.