Defenses to Defamation Actions - Explained
How Can I defend a Defamation Action?
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What are the Defenses to a Defamation Action?
There are several recognized defenses to a defamation claim.
First, if the allegedly defamatory statement is true, it is an absolute defense.
Second, a communication may be privileged under the law and specifically exempted from defamation actions.
- Example: In most circumstances, statements made by legislators, judges, attorneys, and those involved in lawsuits (in court or in session) are privileged.
Next Article: Defamation and 1st Amendment Considerations Return to: TORT LAW
Do you think defamation should extend to truthful statements in some situations? Should truthful communications that are presented in a way to create a false impression about someone be defamatory? Why or why not? How do you feel about certain forums being privileged or exempt from defamation actions? What are the arguments for and against such privilege?
Dora learns from Elvis that Sandra has a venereal disease. While this is true, Dora and Elvis are incorrect about the specific disease. When Dora incorrectly tells another person that Dora has a specific venereal disease, has she committed a tort?
- The tort of defamation has defenses. These defenses include:
- The statement is true. If the defendant in a defamation lawsuit can prove that the statement against the plaintiff are indeed true, then that will be a defense.
- If the statement was merely a statement of opinion.
- If there was consent from the plaintiff to publish the statement.
- If the statement falls under the category of absolute privilege. For instance, statements made during judicial proceedings or statements made between spouses.
- Where the statement falls under the category of qualified privilege. This includes statements made in governmental reports of official proceedings or statements made by lower government officials such as members of town or local boards.
- If the defendant retracts the alleged defamatory statement. If the defamer retracts the allegedly defamatory statement, that often will serve as a defense to any defamation lawsuit, especially if the defamer also apologizes.
In the example from the practice question, Dora has committed defamation by publishing false information about Sandra's health. She has no defense for the same.
- Tort Law (Intro)
- What are Torts?
- What are the types of torts?
- What are Intentional Torts?
- Unintentional Tort
- Assault and Battery?
- Intentional Infliction of Emotions Distress?
- Invasion of Privacy?
- False Imprisonment?
- Malicious Prosecution?
- Defenses to Defamation?
- Absolute Privilege
- Defamation and 1st Amendment Considerations?
- Intentional Interference with Contractual Relations?
- What is Negligence?
- Negligence A Duty of Care?
- Negligence Breach of Duty of Care?
- What are common defenses to negligence actions?
- What is Strict Liability?
- Strict Liability Causes of Action Examples
- Strict Products Liability
- What defenses exist to strict product liability actions?
- Compensatory damages?
- Punitive damages?
- Treble Damages