Los Angeles Business Litigation Attorneys Review the Elements of Libel and Slander

In California, there is no one set of rules when it comes to defamation; it all depends on whether the individual who is claiming slander or libel is a public figure, or private figure, and whether the alleged lie that is being spread is a private or public matter.  As Los Angeles business litigation attorneys who deal with many issues regarding defamation involving private individuals and private matters, we want to educate business owners about the elements of libel and slander, a subject which is often highly misunderstood.

Many people believe that if they are simply repeating what another individual said, they are not responsible – but this is not true.  You can be sued for defamation regardless of whether you are the one who originally slandered someone else.  It is not a good idea to repeat any statement that another person tells you without investigating as to whether the statement is true, and even then it’s best to keep it to yourself.  Under California law, you must take “reasonable care” in determining whether a statement you repeat is in fact true or not.

The elements of defamation involving two parties who are private figures and which involve private matters are as follows:

The libelous statement must be made to someone other than the plaintiff.  If you tell an individual something that is not true about his or herself, it is not considered defamation; however, if you make a false statement (or tell a lie) about the plaintiff in a room or space where there are other people who hear it, it may be interpreted as defamation.

A slanderous statement must be clearly understood that it pertains to the plaintiff.  When you say something about someone in a vague manner, using a phrase such as “I’m not going to mention their name,” and the individual you are talking to has no idea who you are talking about, it is not defamation.  If, however, you are making a statement about someone in a vague manner as described above, but have literature or other identifying information you point to while making the slanderous statement, it may satisfy this element.

The statement you make about another individual must either injure that individual in his or her occupation, discourage others from associating with or dealing with that person, or expose the person to “contempt, shame, hatred, or ridicule.”  This is a critical element in determining whether you are guilty of defamation, as making a statement on its own without any of the above factors does not qualify as defamation.

Finally, the statement must be false in order for you to be found guilty of defamation.  Additionally, it must be proven that because of the false statement that was said in the presence of others, the plaintiff suffered some type of damage, whether to his or her profession, property, occupation, or business.

Libel and slander are areas of the law which are not clearly understood by most people.  If you are the victim of defamation, or have been accused of slander or libel, consult with the experienced and capable team of Los Angeles business lawyers at the Law Offices of Spotora & Associates.

This entry was posted on Monday, March 25th, 2013 at 9:38 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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