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Defamation (Libel / Slander)

Defamation, Libel and Slander are all interrelated concepts involving personal injury to one's reputation. Libel and slander are both forms of the larger concept of defamation. Although the elements of both forms of defamation are almost identical to one and other, the key difference with the two is the fact that libel refers to defamation that can be seen whereas slander consists of oral defamatory communications.

Special rules are accorded to defamation involving public officials or public figures, where the communication is about a matter of public concern.


Recently in Defamation (Libel / Slander) Category

Elon Musk is extremely online. The Tesla founder and CEO has never been shy on Twitter, so it's no surprise he jumped into the discussion concerning the rescue of 12 Thai boys who had become trapped in a cave last month. Musk had offered his help during the rescue, visiting the site and ordering his employees to build a "kid-size submarine" that rescue officials determined was "not practical for our mission" and declined to use.

One of the divers who did play a key role in the rescue, Vernon Unsworth, called the submarine a "PR stunt" that "just had absolutely no chance of working," adding that Musk could "stick his submarine where it hurts." Musk responded immediately and, perhaps, illegally: "We will make one (video) of the mini-sub/pod going all the way to Cave 5 no problem. Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it." The tweet was deleted, but American and British lawyers have already contacted Unsworth about a possible defamation claim against Musk.

Alex Jones doesn't get a whole lot of things right, especially when it comes to school shootings. Earlier this month, Jones and his InfoWars website were sued for defamation after misidentifying an innocent teenager from Massachusetts as the Parkland, Florida shooter.

This week, Jones has been sued by families of victims from another school shooting about which the conspiracy peddler has theories. Parents of two children slain in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut in 2012 filed separate defamation lawsuits against Jones, claiming his insistence that the shooting was staged and the parents are actors has tormented them for years.

When to Sue for Defamation of Character

With all this talk about snowflakes, freedom of speech, hate speech, etc. it can be difficult to know what you can and can't say, and what your rights are when it comes to what others say about you. These days, it seems like a mere mention of the weather will offend somebody. But when does offense cross over into defamation? When are someone's words so injurious to your reputation that you can sue them for it? While it varies somewhat from state to state, there are some helpful guidelines for knowing when to sue someone for defamation of character.

When Can Sexual Assault Survivors Sue for Defamation?

Being a victim of sexual assault is bad enough, but finally finding the courage to speak up and then being called a liar -- or worse -- by the person who assaulted you, is even worse. There may, however, be a recourse for these types of circumstances. Women who have survived a sexual assault have been turning to defamation lawsuits to fight back against their attackers.

In many instances, this is not only to clear their own name but also because the statute of limitations for filing a civil claim of sexual assault has passed. And while not every attacker who has called his or her victim a liar will win a defamation lawsuit, it's a viable option for sexual assault survivors who think they can prove the elements of defamation.

Those that ascribe to the "any PR is good PR" mantra might be tempted to tell a model that any use of her image would be a good use. But what about a use that implies she is HIV positive?

That happened to model Avril Nolan after New York's Division of Human Rights ran a full-color, quarter-page ad featuring her face, beside the words "I am positive (+)" and "I have rights," all without her permission. Nolan sued, claiming the ad was defamatory and that the DHR violated state civil rights laws. And a state appeals court agreed, with the defamation part at least.

As you may have heard by now, journalist Michael Wolf's "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House" has caused quite a stir. The president was not too pleased with the work, and lawyers for Trump and the book's publisher traded some entertaining letters over it. (And, of course, Trump tweeted.)

As they have so often done throughout his business and political career, Trump's lawyers threatened the author and publisher with a defamation lawsuit. What Trump has not-so-often done, however, is follow through on those threats. If he did this time, what legal issues might be in play?

Frequently, when individuals ask what their injury cases are worth, they are surprised to learn that there is no way for an attorney to answer that question without having access to accurate fortune tellers. Since fortune telling is all a hoax (if it weren't, there'd be a lot more lottery winners), this means that really knowing what a case is worth is impossible until it's over.

Simply put, there are too many variables that go into a case's value. However, one rule of thumb that seems to hold true is that the larger the injury, the larger the award. In the context of defamation, this means that to get a big verdict, the victim must have suffered a major reputational harm, or lost significant income or revenues, as a result of the defamatory statement.

Top 5 Defamation FAQ

If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. It's not just good social advice from mom; it can also be good legal advice from an attorney.

While the First Amendment protects free speech, it doesn't protect all speech. And certain negative speech can get you sued. Here are some of the biggest questions regarding defamation law, and where you can turn for answers.

Dr. David Dao was one of four passengers on a United Airlines flight that was recently forced to give up his seat for UA employees. The airline claims that the flight was overbooked and it needed four passengers to give up seats for employees that needed to be at the plane's destination for work.

After Dr. Dao boarded, while in his seat, he was asked to exit the plane. When he refused, stating that he had patients to see the next day, police were called, and he was forcibly removed from his seat, and literally dragged down the plane's aisle and off the plane. The incident was captured by cell phone video by a few passengers, who posted the videos to social media.

Before he was President Donald Trump, he was host of the reality TV series "The Apprentice" Donald Trump. But his actions then may come back to legally haunt him now.

Summer Zervos, a former "Apprentice" contestant, is suing the president, claiming his denials of her sexual harassment claims amounted to defamation. But Trump's attorneys are planning to argue that the president is immune from this and other civil lawsuits while he remains in office. Is that argument going to work?