Categories: Defamation Lawsuit

In the following paragraphs we will talk about defamation lawsuits. Specifically, we will cover some of the more famous ones as well as some of the legalese or legal terms that are used and what they mean. We will also talk about what the necessary requirements are for a defamation lawsuit and how to sue for defamation.

In order to properly understand this type of lawsuit, you must first understand what exactly defamation of character entails. In a lawsuit, defamation of character is when someone allegedly commits libel or slander against a person or business entity that harms the reputation or character of the person or entity that was referenced and results in damages to the person victimized by the defamation.

Libel is when this maliciousness is carried out in writing or emails.

Slander refers to when it is carried out verbally.

Those are just two of the many terms. Some of the other ones are:

• Neutral reportage – This refers to a type of defense against defamation and libel suits that generally involve media that republishes accusations that are not proven regarding political figures.

• Defamation per se – When you see or hear this term, it means that a specific statement is defamatory regardless of anything else. An example of this would be if someone spreads lies about someone having an STD.

Defamation of Character Lawsuits

This type of lawsuit is generally thought about and pursued when someone feels that there has been defamation online, or in the workplace or in some alternate venue (say a sports organization or to members of an association) that resulted in a major impact on the person or business entity referenced and their reputation. Many times, this type of defamation can result in a loss of respect or regard and even friends, family and employment for individuals. Businesses that have been defamed can suffer from a loss of clientele, a growing distrust of the business standards and practices and in severe cases the actual end of the business. These are all things considered as “damages.”

In a lawsuit the plaintiff must prove defamation of character. All that the defendant has to do is defend against the accusation. While this may seem lopsided, remember that in the USA everyone is supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. That means that the burden of proof is always on the plaintiff.

 Examples of Defamation of Character Lawsuits

Defamation lawsuits occur all around the world. That said, what is defamation lawsuit in different countries can vary. Let’s explore several examples below.

Take the case of Schroder vs. DDP. Gerhard Schroder is a German Chancellor. In 2002 he brought a defamation lawsuit against the DDP Press Agency. They had published an opinion that had been expressed by Schroder’s PR consultant to the effect that Schroder would be thought to be more credible if he stopped dyeing his hair to cover the gray.

In this case, it was decided that the media could not legally suggest whether or not he colored his hair. The media was not happy with the verdict because they felt it infringed upon their right to freedom of the press. Schroder’s legal team thought that this was not considered a frivolous lawsuit because it wasn’t about whether or not his hair was dyed but was instead about the veracity of his actions.

Here is another example regarding events here in the USA. In 1996, there was a little girl who was murdered. Her name was JonBenet Ramsey. There have been quite a few defamation lawsuits that have been a result of this child’s murder. Jon Benet’s parents and her brother sued a string of media companies for allegations that they were complicit in her murder.

They themselves were sued after they published a book about the ordeal. In the book, they mentioned the names of two people who were said to have been suspects in the murder. Those two individuals sued for defamation of character. Both cases were dismissed.

The most recent defamation lawsuit regarding this murder was in 2006 when a friend of the child’s father filed a suit against a man who had posted a message on an online forum accusing this friend (Rod Westmoreland) of participating in the crime. That one was also lost.

All in all, there are a wide variety of scenarios in which these lawsuits can come up. But proving that defamation of character has occurred is not as easy as it may seem.

The requirements for a defamation lawsuit will vary from state to state as will the statute of limitations to file one. If you feel that you have been defamed, talk to an attorney as soon as possible so that you know what your options are.

 

 

 

 

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Posted on Feb 3, 2014

About the Author

Lane Houk is a recognized internet marketing and reputation expert. Lane regularly speaks to business owners of all types about online reputation management and marketing and why it is imperative for professionals and companies to pro-actively manage their online reputation and take immediate steps if/when someone posts a negative review or worse, lies, about you or your company online. Online defamation can have devastating effects on your business and your professional career.

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National Institute of Consumer Advocacy, LLC
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Defamation, Libel & Slander Law

Online Defamation Lawsuit

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