What Damages Are Recoverable For Them and On What Basis Are Damages Determined (The Standard of Fault)?
What are the forms of defamation in Los Angeles and San Diego and what damages can be recovered when someone you are the victim of libel or slander in a defamation case?
Forms of Defamation – California law defines Defamation in two kinds.
Libel is the written form (including photos and other permanent writings, such as an Internet-defamatory statement). Slander is spoken defamation.
California defines Libel as a ” false and unprivileged publication by writing, printing, picture, effigy, or other fixed representation to the eye, which exposes any person to hatred, contempt, ridicule, or obloquy, or which causes him to be shunned or avoided, or which as a tendency to injure him in his occupation.”
The California legislature defines Slander as “a false and unprivileged publication, orally uttered, or communicated by radio or any mechanical or other means which:
A. – Charges any person with crime, or with having been indicted, convicted, or punished for a crime;
B. -Imputes to him the present existence of an infection, contagious, or loathsome disease;
C. Tends directly to injure him in respect to his office, profession, trade or business, either by imputing to him either general disqualification in those respects which the office or other occupation peculiarly requires, or by imputing something regarding his office, profession trade, or business that has a natural tendency to lessen its profits;
D. -Imputes to him impotence or a want of chastity; or
E. -Which, by natural consequence, causes actual damage.
These relatively straightforward definitions bear special legal meanings but give the reader an overview of the two forms defamation takes in California.
Damages (money recovery for loss or injury) for Slander and Libel?
Courts may award three types of damages in a defamation case. A judge or jury will measure the plaintiff’s loss of reputation from the defamatory statement or statements.
(i) General Damages – these include damages for loss of reputation, shame, mortification, and hurt feelings. – Note that once a plaintiff establishes a defendant made a defamatory statement, he or she is entitled to assumed General Damages
(ii) Special Damages – these “are all damages plaintiff alleges and proves that he has suffered in respect to his property, trade, profession or occupation including such amounts of money as the plaintiff alleges and proves he has expended . . .”
(iii) Punitive Damages (“Exemplary”) – are damages which may, be recovered in addition to general and special damages for the sake of example and by way of punishing a defendant who has made the publication or broadcast with actual malice.”
What is The Basis on Which Courts Decide These Damages?
There are different standards applied to a given case. They differ based on whether the plaintiff is deemed to be a private person or a public figure. Private-person plaintiffs need demonstrate only lack of reasonable care, i.e., negligence.
On the other hand, public figures must show a defendant made statements with “constitutional” malice. Such malice means the defendant knew the statement was false at the time she or he made it or wrote or spoke with reckless disregard for the truth. This standard creates a much higher hill to climb. It shows why celebrities, athletes, or politicians rarely sue for defamation. – despite the frequently wide-spread publicity when they do.
Public figures are people like LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Lady Gaga, world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and professional tennis maestro Roger Federer.
The factors that determine defamation in Los Angeles and San Diego can be quite complex. This is why it is important to contact an experienced defamation attorney or call (760) 295-1311.