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Defamation

Part 2

QuestionAnswer
Freedom of Speech. What types of speech are there? Protected speech, unprotected speech, and defamation. A very difficult civil right with lots of "gray area."
Examples of speech that are not protected. 1. Comments that create fear or apprehension of imminent harm (assault). 2. Comments that create a hostile or intimidating environment (sexual harassment). 3. Defamatory comments
Defamation A false statement which tends to injure reputation; to diminish the esteem, respect, good-will, or confidence in which the plaintiff is held, or to excite adverse, derogatory, or unpleasant feelings or opinions against him.
2 Types of Defamation 1.) Slander: defamatory comments made orally 2.) Libel: published communications that may include: written comments, photos, & cartoons.
4 Elements of Defamation Claims 1.) False Statement 2.) Publication to a 3rd party 3.) Fault or negligence of the publisher 4.) Damage
Damages in Defamation Claims 1. PLaintiff retains burden of proof. 2. No liability exists without intentional negligence/fault.
Categories of Individuals 1.) Public Official 2.) Public Figure 3.) Limited Purpose Public Person 4.) Private Figure
Public Official Someone who works for a government and draws a salary from the public payroll. Plaintiff must clearly prove the comment was made with "actual malice."
Actual Malice Communication made with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.
Public Figure An individual who has, because of his or her activities, commanded sufficient public interest "and, therefore, have as much societal influence as government officials."
Limited Purpose Public Person An individual (who) voluntarily injects himself or is drawn into a particular public controversy and thereby becomes a public figure for a limited range of issues. An individual has immediate local recognition and constant media coverage on a local level.
Private Figure Individual citizens who are not involved in public issues or employed as a public official.
What must plaintiff demonstrate when accused as a public figure? 1.) Defamatory comment was negligently made. 2.) Actual Injury
Actual Injury Impairment of reputation and standing in the community, personal humiliation, and mental anguish and suffering.
Defamation Defenses 1. Truth 2. Opinion Statements 3. Privilege (absolute privilege)
Absolute Privilege Defense for members of the executive and judicial branch.
2 types of Damages awarded for Defamation cases 1. Special Damages 2. General Damages
Special Damages Actual pecuniary (i.e. financial) losses that the plaintiff can prove he or she sustained as a result of the defendants comments.
General Damages Nonquantifiable damages such as the presumed damage to ones reputation. Plaintiff's suing for slander must prove special damages unless the cause of action is slander per se.
Created by: kil4261