What is Defamation in California?

Defamation is a factually false statement about a person or company that is “unprivileged” (which legally means not protected by free speech rules from a claim for defamation).  To be defamatory, the statement(s) must damage their target’s character, profession, or standing in the community.  You cannot state that someone has done something illegal, or attack their chastity or conduct, if …

Can I Get a Libel or Slander Case Dismissed on the basis of “Innocent Meaning?”

In the past month, two prospective clients asked me whether, in California defamation cases, the defense of innocence will defeat a libel claim. In the late 1950s, this defense was reviewed and rejected by the California Supreme Court. Using reasoning still current today, the high court said the defendant is liable for what is insinuated, and what is explicitly stated. “The fact that …

How can I Defend Myself Against an Accusation of Defamation in San Diego?

If some accuses you of defamation, you are facing substantial financial consequences. Mount a professional and thorough defense. The vast majority of attorneys would not feel competent defending themselves in a defamation suit, so defamation law is not something you should handle on your own. It involves complex areas of law, and as an experienced attorney and litigator I can help you quickly …

If Someone Accuses me of Internet Defamation, Do I Need an Attorney?

If accused of “Internet defamation“, i.e., making a defamatory statement about a person or company on the Internet, definitely – and promptly — consult a seasoned defamation attorney. I have several substantial defensive options to protect you from these types of suits. When threatened with an unjustified Internet defamation suit, I have tools to help you get a positive result. One option …

When does “Publication” Happen in Slander Cases in Los Angeles and San Diego?

What is “publication” as it relates to defamation, and how does publication take place if the defamation is shared by the spoken word (known as “slander“)? Publication in defamation cases occurs the moment that the speaker’s false statement is communicated to a third party – someone other than the subject of the defamation. When does publication happen?  To be “published,” a …

Defamation of Character in San Diego

“Defamation of character” is recognized by the public. People often ask me about defamation of character in San Diego. They inquire because they have suffered harm to their reputations due lies or false accusations. Defamation of character in legal terms falls into two general categories: libel or slander. Libel is an untruthful, harmful attack on another person or company via written …

Defamatory Internet Statements in Context: Fact, Opinion, or Hyperbole?

Ruling on an Internet libel claim based on a Tweet, a federal court in Massachusetts last week dismissed a plaintiff’s complaint. The plaintiff shipped her retired racehorse away to become a companion horse. On the way the horse vanished and was presumed destroyed. This event became the source of online discussion. In that debate, the defendant posted this disputed Tweet …

Public Figures in Defamation Law

Early in the assessment of a defamation action the question arises whether the plaintiff is a “public figure.” Public figures face a more challenging standard of proof than private people. There are two types of public figures in defamation law. The high-profile public figure (such as the Beatles or Bill Gates) is so thoroughly famous or infamous that he or she attains …

“Constitutional Actual Malice” in California Defamation Cases

What is “Constitutional Actual Malice in San Diego, Los Angeles and California defamation cases?  When the plaintiff filing a libel or slander case is a public figure or public official, he or she must show the defendant acted with “constitutional” actual malice. This is a high standard and must be proved with convincing clarity. To protect free speech, the First Amendment bars a public official …

What is “Actual Malice” in San Diego and Los Angeles?

Actual malice is a potential component of many defamation cases, and while it can be quite complicated to establish from a legal point of view the subtleties are somewhat intuitive to most of my clients.  California defamation law permits a plaintiff to recover punitive damages for the publication of libel by newspaper and slander by radio. The plaintiff must first demand that the publisher or broadcaster …