Law student Sandra Fluke can "definitely" sue Rush Limbaugh for slander over the talk-show host's ugly remarks on his radio program, legal experts say. Fluke seems to be leaving her options open.
"I've certainly been told I might have a case," Fluke, 30, told The Daily Beast on Friday, "but it's not something I've made any decisions about at this point."
The next day, Rush Limbaugh apologized for calling Fluke a "slut" and a "prostitute" over the air. Liberal activists are clamoring for legal action.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-New York, initiated the call for Sandra Fluke to sue Rush Limbaugh, according to The Daily Beast. Maloney, speaking at New York Law School, suggested firing back at Limbaugh with a civil lawsuit alleging slander.
Slander is a type of defamation in which a hurtful statement is spoken. To win a slander lawsuit, a victim must prove someone made a false statement that was "published" to at least one other person, and that the statement caused injury.
Public figures must also prove actual malice -- that the statement was made with intentional disregard for the truth.
In Sandra Fluke's case, she is not a public figure, lawyers told the Philadelphia Daily News. Fluke can "definitely" prove Limbaugh made the hurtful comments and "published" them to millions of listeners, one attorney said.
Rush's potential defenses -- such as free-speech protections and that he was just joking -- may not hold up with a jury, the attorney told the Daily News.
"His statements implied facts about somebody's sex life, that she was promiscuous and trading sex for money," the attorney explained. The company that syndicates Limbaugh's radio show may also be liable for "publishing" the comments, the attorney said.
As for Limbaugh's apology, a judge or jury may consider it in coming up with a damage award. Sandra Fluke may be thinking about that as she considers suing Rush Limbaugh.
- Libel lawyer: Fluke 'definitely' has reason to sue Limbaugh (Philadelphia Daily News)
- Will Sandra Fluke Sue Rush Limbaugh? (The Daily Beast)
- Defamation Law: The Basics (FindLaw)
- Browse Personal Injury Lawyers by Location (FindLaw)