June 07, 2012

What is Defamation Per Se?

The first is libel. Libel means that the defamatory statement was made in printed form. The second kind is what's known as slander. Slander means that the defamatory statement was spoken. Regardless of whether it's libel or slander, it could be what's known as defamation per se.

While defamation depends upon what particular state law says about what qualifies as defamation per se, typically they involve a few different categories. The first that would qualify for defamation per se is when someone makes a false statement accusing another of a serious crime. The next category is when they make a false statement intending to injure a person in his or her profession.

The third category is when they make a false statement suggesting that a person has a loathsome disease. Now, loathsome is a term of art in the area of law that goes back many, many years, but in today's day and age it means something that we would equate to AIDS, for example, HIV or some other kind of disease that people would not want to encounter.

 

 

Welcome to Defamation Law Radio. Internet defamation of character is as easy to perpetuate as a blog post, Facebook update, rating submission, or a forum comment.  Your online reputation is measured by the websites return as Google search results.  Do you know what people are saying and writing about you?

 

This is Brian Hall, an attorney with Traverse Legal, PLC, a law firm that handles defamation matters for both plaintiffs and defendants throughout the United States. Today, I'll be answering the question, what is defamation per se?

Before I answer that question, let's talk about the two kinds of defamation. The first is libel. Libel means that the defamatory statement was made in printed form. The second kind is what's known as slander. Slander means that the defamatory statement was spoken. Regardless of whether it's libel or slander, it could be what's known as defamation per se.

While defamation depends upon what particular state law says about what qualifies as defamation per se, typically they involve a few different categories. The first that would qualify for defamation per se is when someone makes a false statement accusing another of a serious crime. The next category is when they make a false statement intending to injure a person in his or her profession.

The third category is when they make a false statement suggesting that a person has a loathsome disease. Now, loathsome is a term of art in the area of law that goes back many, many years, but in today's day and age it means something that we would equate to AIDS, for example, HIV or some other kind of disease that people would not want to encounter.

Then, the final category is when a false statement is made accusing a woman of unchastity. Regardless of if it's spoken or slander, or written or libel, defamation per se would have to fall in one of those four categories that I just reviewed. What does all of it mean? Well, if you are able to establish that the statement is, in fact, defamation per se, then the plaintiff does not have to allege and prove special damages showing economic loss. The reason that's important is because in order to state a claim or a cause of action that would allow a lawsuit to be filed and ultimately for a recovery to be made, you have to establish number one, that a false statement of fact was made; number two, it was made about someone else and published; and number three, that damages resulted.

If the statement can qualify as defamation per se, then, in fact, you don't have to go that extra step of proving special damages to show economic loss. Once again, as I mentioned before, it's important to look at each particular state's defamation laws before proceeding with a lawsuit. Or in the event that you're named defendant in a defamation lawsuit, to identify what the state of the law is in that particular state.

For example, a very recent decision out of New York has held that labeling someone as homosexual or gay, is no longer per se defamation. This is a change from what the law was in New York, and what typically the law is in other states.

Therefore, if you are considering filing a defamation lawsuit, or if you are, in fact, subject to a defamation lawsuit, you should work with a defamation attorney who can research and advise you regarding the law in the particular state where that defamation lawsuit would occur.

Once again, this has been Brian Hall answering your question, what is defamation per se?

 

You’ve been listening to Defamation Law Radio, where defamation of character, slander, and libel are always the topic of the day.  Whether you are a defamation attorney or a client, we are the number one resource for all your defamation questions.

COMMENTS

Defamation per se is the most serious form of slander or libel. It is so egregious that the law presumes that the person who is the target of the defamatory statement has in fact been harmed. Oftentimes, it is difficult to prove damages in defamation claim. Defamation per se removes some of the hurdles normally in place when it comes to proving and showing damages to the person allegedly defamed.

The comments to this entry are closed.

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d834208fd253ef0163063672cc970d

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference What is Defamation Per Se?:

Official Trademark Clearinghouse Agent

Copyright Infringement & Internet Defamation Blog Homepage: Copyright Infringment Lawyer, Internet Defamation, and Internet Privacy

ARCHIVES

Domain attorney recommended by Domaining.com
© 2011 Traverse Legal, PLC. All Rights Reserved.
Traverse Legal on LinkedInTraverse Legal on FacebookTraverse Legal on Twitter
Events & Conferences:
  • International Trademark Association 2011, San Francisco, California
  • Cyber Law Summit 2011, Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Game Developers Conference 2011, San Francisco, California
  • DOMAINfest 2011, Santa Monica, California
Recent Attorney Speaking Engagements:
  • South By Southwest 2010 SXSW Interactive Conference, Austin, Texas
  • West LegalEdcenter Midwestern Law Firm Management, Chicago, Illinois
  • Internet Advertising under Part 255, Altitude Design Summit, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Online Defamation and Reputation Management, News Talk 650 AM, The Cory Kolt Show, Canada Public Radio Saskatewan Canada
  • Alternative Fee Structures, Center for Competitive Management, Jersey City, New Jersey
  • FTC Part 255 Advertising Requirements, Mom 2.0 Conference, Houston, Texas
  • Webmaster Radio, Cybersquatting & Domain Monetization, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Notable Complex Litigation Cases Handled By Our Lawyers:
  • Trademark Infringement, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Cybersquatting Law, Trademark Law and Dilution Detroit, Michigan
  • Internet Defamation & Online Libel Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Trade Secret Theft, Chicago, Illinois
  • Cybersquatting Law, Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act Miami, Florida
  • Cybersquatting Law, Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act Eastern Dist. of Virginia, Alexandria
  • Stolen Domain Name, Orlando, Florida
  • Commercial Litigation, Tampa, Florida
  • Copyright Infringement and Cybersquatting Law, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Mass Tort Litigation, Los Angeles, California
  • Stolen Domain Name, Detroit, Michigan
  • Adwords Keyword Trademark Infringement, Los Angeles, California
  • Trademark Infringement & Unfair Competition, Boston, Massachusetts
  • Non-Compete Agreement and Trade Secret Theft, Detroit, Michigan
  • Mass Tort, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Mass Tort, Tyler, Texas
  • Insurance Indemnity, New York
  • Copyright Infringement, Detroit, Michigan