Monthly Archives: October 2012

Blogger Defamation: An Introductory Legal Guide

custom graphic to accompany post about blogger defamationIncreasingly, online authors are being sued for libel. Sometimes it’s justified; sometimes it’s not. To help sort through the fact and fiction of blogger defamation, we created this FAQ. Don’t see your question listed? Please, get in touch.

Blogger Defamation Frequently Asked Questions (& Answers)

  1. What is defamation?
  2. Are bloggers considered journalists?
  3. Are bloggers considered public figures?
  4. I’m a political blogger, am I considered a public figure?
  5. Are corporations considered public figures for the purposes of a cyber defamation lawsuit?
  6. If I omit names from a blog post, can I still be sued for cyber defamation?
  7. Is it illegal to link to a defamatory statement?
  8. What happens if a third-party post on your website is defamatory, are you liable?
  9. What about paid/fake reviews, are they allowed or can they result in a cyber defamation lawsuit?

What is Defamation?

Slander (spoken defamation) and libel (written defamation) statutes are nuanced, and vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but the basic definition is as follows:

defamation, n. (14c) 1. The act of harming the reputation of another by making a false statement to a third person. If the alleged defamation involves a matter of public concern, the plaintiff is constitutionally required to prove both the statement’s falsity and the defendant’s fault. 2. A false written or oral statement that damages another’s reputation. See LIBEL; SLANDER. Cf. (Black’s Law Dictionary, Ninth Edition)

Defamation falsity must be provable. You won’t get far suing an adversary for calling you “a sorry excuse for a blogger” because morality is subjective and one person’s “sorry excuse” could be another person’s “hero.” Now, if someone said you “stole money to finance your blog” – and you didn’t – there’s a good chance you’d win a defamation lawsuit.

Privileged Statements

The definition of “privilege” and whether or not it’s considered protected speech largely depends on jurisdiction. The general rule of thumb: Private communications, including confidential litigation proceedings or doctor-patient discussions, typically don’t qualify as defamation.

Public Figures v. Private Figures

If the plaintiff in a slander or libel lawsuit is a public figure, he or she must prove their respective defendants acted with actual malice — the intentional publishing of false information, to inflict reputational harm.

The definition of a public figure differs from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Generally, celebrities (local or famous), public office holders, or anybody who thrusts themselves into a public debate, are deemed “public figures” and must meet “actual malice” standards. In some regions, teachers and government workers also qualify as public figures.

Private figures, on the other hand, only have to convince a judge or jury that a reasonable person wouldn’t have published the material in question.

Are Bloggers Considered Journalists?

Are bloggers considered journalists? Yes. The United States Supreme Court ruled that “in the context of defamation law, the rights of the institutional media are no greater and no less than those enjoyed by other individuals and organizations engaged in the same activities.”

But don’t fool yourself into thinking that the First Amendment will protect everything you publish. Engage in rigorous journalistic ethics and quadruple check everything for accuracy before posting. Cite sources and be careful with wording. Because remember, the same well-funded, in-house legal teams going after big media are the same ones going after bloggers.

Are Bloggers Considered Public Figures?

As discussed above, United States defamation law differentiates between public and private figures. Public figures must meet the actual malice standard; private citizens only have to prove negligence.

In many cases, bloggers are deemed public figures, because, by posting, they’re willing involving themselves in a conversation or issue.

I’m A Blogger Who Focuses on Local Government. Am I Considered A Public Figure Since I Willingly Inject Myself Into Matters Of Public Interest?

In some jurisdictions, anybody who willingly enters in a public discourse about a matter of government or public interest can be considered a limited-purpose public figure. Some states, though, legislatively protect citizens who comment on public proceedings. For example, in California, you can make “a fair and true report in, or a communication to, a public journal, of (A) a judicial, (B) legislative, or (C) other public official proceeding, or (D) of anything said in the course thereof, or (E) of a verified charge or complaint made by any person to a public official, upon which complaint a warrant has been issued.”

Are Corporations Considered Public Figures in Defamation Lawsuits?

Whether or not a company will be viewed as a public figure depends on the case details. The general rule of thumb: Corporations are people and held to the same standards as individuals.

If I Start Every Sentence With ‘IMO,’ Can It Be Viewed As Defamatory? What If I Don’t Use Names?

Even if you omit names from articles, if the target can be reasonably inferred from surrounding content, it may be ruled defamatory.

Judges apply the “reasonable person” test. In other words, if a reasonable person thinks the blogger attached a weak qualifier to an obviously defamatory statement, the blogger can still be held liable.

Or, to put it bluntly: Saying, “In my opinion,” in front of a defamatory statement isn’t going to save you.

Is It Illegal To Link To Defamatory Content?

Yes, according to United States legal precedence, in certain circumstances, you can be held liable for linking to defamatory content — especially if the surrounding context discusses the material.

Plenty of defenses work in hyperlink defamation cases, but if you want to play it super safe, avoid linking to material that may be defamatory. The more salacious/outrageous the material, the greater the chance it’s defamatory.

What Happens If Someone Posts Something Defamatory On My Site? Can I Be Held Responsible?

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act absolves Internet service providers from being held responsible for defamatory user content. So, if someone leaves a defamatory comment under one of your posts, you probably won’t be held responsible for their missive. In rare occasions, though, you may be.

Is it defamatory to post a negative online review of a product or service? What if it’s a phony review?

Simply stated, it’s never OK to post fake product or service reviews on the Web. Not only could you be brought up on defamation charges, but Lanham act violations as well, which renders illegal any action that “misrepresents the nature, characteristics, or qualities of his or her or another person’s goods, services or commercial activities.”

A Family Defamation Case Study: Father v. Daughter

retro art to accompany blog post about a family defamation caseA high-profile family defamation case dominated legal headlines this week.

Attorney Richard Fischbein sued his daughter Beth Fischbein-Bodner for defamation. A ase begging for the Lifetime Original Movie treatment, Fischbein v. Fischbein-Bodner is the tale of two related attorneys and a trust fund.

Family Defamation Fight: Lawyer Father Sues Lawyer Daughter Over Trust Fund Allegations

Somewhere, currently walking the streets of New York, is an attorney whose represents Donald Trump and the Black Panthers. His name is Richard Fischbein and he’s suing his daughter for defamation.

What sparked the family feud? Well, we’ll never truly know. But according to reports, the story supposedly goes something like this:

Back in 1980, Richard established a trust fund for Beth, to be made available on her 21st birthday, in 1990. But if you believe Beth, Mr. Fischbein and his current wife allegedly and questionably accessed the account and adjusted the fund, giving Beth less than originally planned.

Fischbein-Bodner petitioned Surrogate Court for a trust fund audit. Apparently, Beth suspected the pair of using her money to leverage a mortgage. For his part, Papa Fischbein, denies any wrongdoing, chiding only that his daughter is an “ungrateful child.” But instead of a little silent treatment to demonstrate displeasure, Fischbein filed a $3 million lawsuit against his spawn for “maliciously and in bad faith” libeling his name and insinuating he engaged in financial misdeeds.

Why The Punitive Defamation Damages Request, Dad?

When the New York Daily News asked Fischbein about his family defamation saga, he lamented, “I wish it didn’t happen, ” then pointing out his financial contributions in terms of private schools, summer camps, and law school.

Fishbein’s public reticence is arguably at odds with his request for defamation damages. Dad wants his daughter to pay punitive damages — i.e., punishment damages — not just actual damages.

Richard Fishbein is famous for once suing the famous steakhouse Angelo & Maxie for $7 million. He claimed the restaurant defamed and “humiliated” him “for not leaving a $353 tip.” Viva la libel litigation!

Defamation Case Study: Kennedy Relative v. Nancy Grace

connecticut lawsuitOn Halloween night 1975, an attacker murdered Martha Moxley, a Connecticut teenager who lived next door to Kennedy relatives, the Skakels. In 2002, a jury convicted Michael Skakel of the crime.

Last week, Skakel asked a parole board for early release. His attorney also took the opportunity to file a slander lawsuit against litigator-turned-TV-criminal-pundit Nancy Grace.

Why Is Michael Skakel Suing Nancy Grace For Slander?

According to Greenwich Patch, when discussing the case on the show,  Grace and correspondent Beth Karas said DNA evidence, found at the crime scene, linked Skakel to the murder. The issue? Skakel allegedly has evidence that the DNA of which they referred couldn’t have been his.

Can Prisoners File Slander Lawsuits?

The parole board denied Skakel’s leave request. Which raises the question: Can he still pursue this slander lawsuit? Yes.

Prisoner lawsuit restrictions exist, but none of them will prevent Skakel from moving forward with this, particular, slander lawsuit.

Noteworthy is that he’s only asking for a couple of thousand dollars in damages — probably because of a 1996 law limiting attorneys fees for convicted criminals.

Can Skakel Win  His Slander Lawsuit Against Nancy Grace?

To win this slander lawsuit, Skakel must prove that Grace and co. knowingly broadcast false statement of fact. How will Grace and Karas likely defend themselves?

  • Fair reporting; or
  • Lack of intent. In the U.S., sometimes, even if a statement is false, defendants may not be found responsible if they can prove they had every reason to believe in its accuracy. The standard protects journalists against bad sources.

There’s also the ever-present possibility that Grace, Karas, and Turner Broadcasting will settle. And since Skakel isn’t asking for much, we probably won’t hear much more about this slander lawsuit.

Have you been defamed? Are adversaries or competitors smearing your good name? If you’re looking for an experienced slander attorney to fight on your behald, we’re the perfect legal team to help. Get in touch today to learn about our slander litigation services.

United States Defamation Statute of Limitations

The defamation statute of limitations, in U.S. jurisdictions, is between 1 and 3 years. Below is a list of the defamation statute of limitations in each of the 50 states.

State Defamation Statute of Limitations Statute
Alabama 2 Years Code of Alabama. Title 6. Section 38(k)
Alaska 2 Years Alaska Statutes. Title 9. Section 70(a)
Arizona 1 Year Arizona Revised Statutes. Title 12. Section 541
Arkansas 3 Years Arkansas Code. Title 16. Subtitle 5. Section 105(5)
California 1 Year California Code of Civil Procedure. Part 2. Title 2. Section 340(c)
Colorado 1 Year Colorado Revised Statutes. Title 13. Section 103(a)
Connecticut 2 Years General Statutes of Connecticut. Title 52. Section 597
Delaware 2 Years Delaware Code. Title 10. Section 8119
District of Columbia 1 Year District of Columbia Official Code. Title 12. Section 301(4)
Florida 2 Years Florida Statutes. Title 8. Section 95.11(4)(g)
Georgia 1 Year Official Code of Georgia Annotated. Title 9. Section 33
Hawaii Two Years Hawaii Revised Statutes. Title 36. Section 657-4
Idaho Two Years Idaho Statutes. Title 5. Section 219(5)
Illinois 1 Year Illinois Compiled Statutes. Chapter 735. Article 13. Section 201
Indiana Two Years Indiana Code. Title 34. Article 11. Chapter 2. Section 4(1)
Iowa Two Years Iowa Code. Title 15. Chapter 614. Section 614.2
Kansas 1 Year Kansas Statutes Annotated. Chapter 60. Article 5. Section 60-513
Kentucky 1 Year Kentucky Revised Statutes. Title 36. Section 413.140(1)(d)
Louisiana 1 Year Louisiana Civil Code. Article 3492
Maine Two Years Maine Revised Statutes. Title 14. Section 753
Maryland 1 Year Maryland Code. Courts and Judicial Proceedings. Title 5. Section 105
Massachusetts Three Years Massachusetts General Laws. Part 3. Title V. Chapter 260. Section 2A
Michigan 1 Year Michigan Compiled Laws. Chapter 600. Section 5805(9)
Minnesota Two Years Minnesota Statutes. Chapter 541. Section 541.07(1)
Mississippi 1 Year Mississippi Code. Title 15. Chapter 1. Section 35
Missouri Two Years Missouri Revised Statutes. Title 35. Chapter 516. Section 140
Montana Two Years Montana Code Annotated. Title 27. Chapter 2. Section 204(3)
Nebraska 1 Year Nebraska Revised Statutes. Chapter 25. Section 208
Nevada Two Years Nevada Revised Statutes. Title 2. Chapter 11. Section 190(4)(c)
New Hampshire Three Years New Hampshire Statutes. Title 52. Chapter 508. Section 508.4(2)
New Jersey 1 Year New Jersey Statutes Annotated. Title 2A. Chapter 14. Section 14-3
New Mexico Three Years Chapter 37. Article 1. Section 8
New York 1 Year New York Code. Civil Practice Law and Rules. Article 2. Section 215(3)
North Carolina 1 Year North Carolina General Statutes. Chapter 1. Section 54(3)
North Dakota Two Years North Dakota Century Code. Title 28. Chapter 1. Section 18(1)
Ohio One Year Ohio Revised Code. Title 23. Section 2305.11(A)
Oklahoma One Year Oklahoma Statutes. Title 12. Section 95(A)(4)
Oregon One Year Oregon Revised Statutes. Title 2. Section 12.120(2)
Pennsylvania One Year Pennsylvania Code. Title 42. Section 5523(1)
Rhode Island One Year Rhode Island General Laws. Title 9. Section 1-14(a)
South Carolina Two Years South Carolina Code of Laws. Title 15. Section 3-550(1)
South Dakota Two Years South Dakota Codified Laws. Title 15. Section 2-15(1)
Tennessee Six months for slander; one year for libel Tennessee Code. Title 28. Sections 3-103, 3-104(a)(1)
Texas One Year Civil Practice and Remedies Code. Title 2. Section 16.002(a)
Utah One Year Utah Code. Title 78B. Section 2-302(4)
Vermont Three Years Vermont Statutes. Title 12. Section 512(3)
Virginia One Year Virginia Statutes. Title 8.01. Section 247.1
Washington Two Years Revised Code of Washington. Title 4. Section 16.100(1)
West Virginia Two Years West Virginia Code. Chapter 55. Section 2-12(b)
Wisconsin Three Years Wisconsin Statutes & Annotations. Chapter 893. Section 57
Wyoming One Year Wyoming Statutes Annotated. Title 1. Section 3-105(a)(5)(A)

Online Harassment Laws In The United States

online harassment lawsAccording to media reports, at the time of this writing, twenty-four states have both online harassment laws and cyber-stalking laws; ten states only have cyber-stalking laws and thirteen states only have Internet harassment laws.

Online Harassment Law: California Penal Code 646.9

California enjoys the country’s strictest computer and Internet harassment statutes.

The state’s definition of stalking:

“Any person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows or willfully and maliciously harasses another person and who makes a credible threat with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear for his or her safety, or the safety of his or her immediate family…”

The law specifically mentions electronic communication devices — meaning telephones, cellular phones, computers, video recorders, fax machines, and pagers (not a complete list).

Online Harassment Law: Texas H.B. No. 2003

Instituted in September of 2009, the Texas Legislator amended the text of an extant bill to include ONLINE HARASSMENT.

“A person commits an offense if the person uses the name or persona of another person to create a web page on or to post one or more messages on a commercial social networking site. They can also be charged if they send an “electronic mail, instant message, text message, or similar communication that references a name, domain address, phone number, or other item of identifying information belonging to any person…”

Other requirements must be met to secure an online harassment conviction in Texas, but law enforcement officials successfully and regularly use this statute to arrest online harassment suspects.

Online Harassment Law: Arizona House Bill 2549

Arizona legislators enacted its state online harassment laws in August 2012. Previous statutes (enacted in the 1970s) only addressed telephone harassment, resulting in a major computer and Internet loophole.

Some opponents of the 2012 bill felt it was too vaguely worded; others thought it too precise.

The law specifically exempts constitutionally protected speech from legal action.

Online Harassment Law: Missouri HB 1852

A teen’s suicide prompted Missouri officials to pass an online harassment law.

Missouri HB 1852 amended the definition of stalking and harassment to include electronic devices other than the telephone. Recently, the Missouri Supreme Court struck down some of the text in the law, citing free speech concerns.

Online Harassment Law: West Virginia Computer Crime and Abuse Act

Section 61-3C-14a of West Virginia’s Computer Crime and Abuse Act addresses “obscene, anonymous, harassing and threatening communications by computer, cell phones and electronic communication devices.”

Online Harassment Law: North Carolina S 14-196.3

G.S. 14-196.3 is North Carolina’s cyber-stalking statute.  It specifically exempts constitutionally protected speech from legal action.

“…any peaceable, nonviolent, or nonthreatening activity intended to express political views or to provide lawful information to others. This section shall not be construed to impair any constitutionally protected activity, including speech, protest, or assembly.”

Online Harassment Law: Michigan 750.411h

Michigan’s harassment statute addresses stalking It wasn’t passed to specifically address online issues, but it does mention electronic communication devices as a means of delivery for harassment or stalking.

Online Harassment Law: Georgia § 16-5-90.

Section 16-5-90 of Georgia’s code governs harassment and stalking; the law specifically mentions technology.

Federal Stalking / Online Harassment Laws

  • 18 U.S.C. 875(c) – Addresses interstate threats. Electronic communication devices are covered under the law. Evidence of a physical threat is required to prosecute under this statute.
  • 47 U.S.C. 223 – Tackles harassment as well as threats. It only covers one-on-one harassment and doesn’t help in situations where harassers dupe  or encourage other parties into attacking a victim (through Internet trolling and other methods) online.
  • 18 U.S.C. 2425 – Deals specifically with using electronic communications devices to entice children sexually. A good, tough law, unfortunately it can’t be used in all cyber-stalking or harassment cases.

Defamation Lawsuit Dismissal: Basic U.S. Standards

picture of business man looking upset to accompany blog post about defamation lawsuit dismissalsWinning a slander or libel lawsuit isn’t easy. At times, the rules prove frustrating for legitimate defamation victims. So, we thought we’d take a few minutes to discuss some key points when it comes to libel law and avoiding a defamation lawsuit dismissal.

Defamation Lawsuit Dismissal Case Study: Nelson v. SI

A judge dismissed Reeves Nelson’s defamation lawsuit against Sports Illustrated. “Not The UCLA Way,” a George Dohrmann article appearing in a 2012 issue, anchored the case. In the piece, Dohrmann attributed the former UCLA basketball player’s ouster to “poor behavior.” In response, Nelson sued for defamation.

Ultimately, the judge ruled in favor of Dohrmann, on account of his extensive research.

Nelson v. SI highlights an important aspect of U.S. defamation law: Inaccurate statements aren’t automatically defamatory — especially when defendants can prove research due diligence.

Avoiding a defamation lawsuit dismissal, in cases like this, is very difficult, if not impossible. Why? Because of free speech. If someone can prove that he or she truly believed a statement, and did adequate research, it’s considered “fair reporting” or “fair comment” and, therefore, not defamatory.

Reasons Why A Disparaging Statement May Not Be Defamatory

To win a defamation lawsuit, in the United States, plaintiffs — at the minimum — must prove:

  1. The assertions in question were false statements of fact (opinion is not defamation);
  2. The statement was communicated to other parties by the plaintiff; and
  3. The defendant(s) knowingly made false statements, with the intent to harm.

If a plaintiff can’t satisfy the three basic requirements, the defendant usually wins.

“It’s my opinion!” Isn’t Always A Viable Defamation Defense

“OK,” you reason, “if opinion isn’t defamatory, then I’ll just slap a qualifier on all my content, declaring that everything I write is ‘only my opinion.'”

Sorry to burst your loophole bubble, but it doesn’t work like that. Slapping an “IMO” in front of a false statement of fact doesn’t magically shield it from the long arm of the law.

Blogger’s Beware

Bloggers should be especially careful. A study recently found that amateur online authors are more likely to lose defamation suits than professional journalists. Why? The nature of blogging encourages concise, aggressive language. And concise, aggressive language can easily cross the “opinion line” into “defamation territory.”

Can You Sue For Defamation?

Are you thinking of suing for online defamation? Consider some things, first.

  1. First check to see if the defamation statutes of limitations has run out in your jurisdiction if you’re filing in a state court. Check with a defamation lawyer to find out if you can sue in a federal court.
  2. If the statements in question were said in confidence, and therefore considered privileged, you may not have a case. Check out this database of state U.S. defamation laws to see how your jurisdiction deals with privileged comments, as it relates to defamation.
  3. To avoid an outright dismissal, early on, make sure you have evidence proving that the statements in question are (a) false and (b) caused harm. If your business is suffering, gather receivables to illustrate a downward trend, in relation to the defamatory statement.

Questions About A Defamation Lawsuit Dismissal?

Ready to speak with a defamation attorney? Get in touch. We can help repair your good name.

TMZ Defamation: A Bachelor’s Revenge

Pop art graphic to accompany blog post about TMZ defamation case
Well, well, well, look at this TMZ defamation case! A TV bachelor slapped the notorious gossip website with an online defamation lawsuit. He wants $20 million over paint sniffing accusations.

TMZ Defamation Case: Bachelor Alum v. Gossip Website

Kasey Kahl is his name; “The Bachelorette” and “Bachelor Pad” are his fame. On August 12, 2012, police arrested Kahl on two counts felony assault, one count felony battery, and one count public intoxication.

Harvey Levin’s media minions, with their finely tuned smut sensors, jumped on the story.

TMZ reported that Kahl was high on toluene – the potent ingredient in paint thinner. But it turns out he wasn’t. Eventually, TMZ admitted its mistake and recanted the statements. But Kahl wasn’t satisfied.

TMZ Defamation Case: The Site Is Too Powerful To Let This Slide!

Kahl is convinced of TMZ’s influence, claiming the single post irreparably cemented his legacy as the “paint thinner guy.” Kahl attached a healthy dollar amount to this alleged infraction —  $20 million for libel and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Since Kahl is a “celebrity” (the courts don’t differentiate between real thespians and reality fame-seekers), for him to win this TMZ defamation lawsuit, he’ll have to prove actual malice.

Outcome Of The Kasey Kahl TMZ Defamation Case

Who won this online defamation case? TMZ. The gossip site’s legal counsel convinced a judge to dismiss the case on anti-SLAPP grounds.

Need a defamation lawyer? Get in touch.

Fair Comment Defamation Defense: The Case Of The Salmon Environmentalist

picture of the Salmon building in Portland to accompany post about fair comment defamation defense in salmon caseA libel case between a corporation and an environmentalist highlights the “fair comment” defense for defamation.

Fatal Accusations Lead To Environmental Defamation Lawsuit

Don Staniford, an active member of the Global Alliance Against Industrial Aquaculture, is at the center of this environmental defamation showdown. You see, Staniford created and distributed material alleging that “Salmon Farming Kills Like Smoking.”

While it may sound like your average activist screed, Mainstream Canada — a Salmon farm — sued the non-profit and Staniford for defamation. “Salmon farming is not nearly as dangerous as smoking” is their battle cry.

Fair Comment Dismissal In Lower Court

The trial court dismissed Mainstream Canada v. Staniford. Both in the United States and Canada, “fair comment” has always been an acceptable defamation defense, and Staniford’s legal team successfully argued the point.

Click Here To Read More About Canadian Defamation Laws.

Explain Fair Comment, As It Relates To Defamation Lawsuits

Fair comment is a defamation defense in Commonwealth countries like Canada and the UK. In short, fair comment allows people to voice opinions about matters of public interest, without fear of retribution. So long as the ultimate goal of a statement is not malicious, fair comment is a viable libel shield.

In this particular defamation case, the judge ruled that even though Staniford’s claims weren’t accurate, “malicious animosity” wasn’t the “dominant purpose” of his actions. In other words, since Staniford truly believes that Salmon farming is destructive, and his ultimate goal was to save fish, not hurt Mainstream Canada, the judge ruled in favor of him.

If A U.S. Court Heard This Case, Would The Fair Comment Defense Work?

The Mainstream Canada v. Staniford defamation case is playing out in a British Columbia court, which raises the question: Would a U.S. court have ruled differently? No, an American court would’ve dismissed the Staniford case, but for slightly different reasons.

Ever since the Supreme Court ruled in New Yorks Times Co. v. Sullivan, a standard of “actual malice” is applied in many U.S. defamation lawsuits – meaning the plaintiff must prove the defendant purposefully lied, with the intent to harm. But more than that, Staniford’s fliers would most likely be seen as political agitprop – and therefore allowable.

Do you need a business defamation lawyer? If yes, contact us today. Our excellent defamation attorneys will work to resolve your situation quickly. Sometimes, a cease and desist defamation letter is all it takes to vanish the problem.

Business Online Defamation Removal: The Basics

business-online-defamation-removalSmall business defamation can be brutal. Thankfully, we help make it better. Whether you’re dealing with:

  1. A strongly worded, unflattering post on an online review website,
  2. A blog post that contains misinformation,
  3. A disparaging tweet or a Facebook update,

our business online defamation removal team can help rectify the situation. Falsehoods spread quickly on the Internet; the sooner you find an online libel attorney, the better.

Business Online Defamation Removal: Kill ‘Em With Kindness

Sometimes people post in the heat of the moment, and believe it or not, a polite email asking the poster to remove inaccurate material is all it takes. This method doesn’t always work, but you’d be surprised at how often it does.

Business Online Defamation Removal: Get A Court Order

If the person who wrote the disparaging material uses a “handle” or “alias” you may have to get a court order to find out their name. A defamation attorney can prepare the necessary motions to secure an injunction.

Business Online Defamation Removal: Send A Cease & Desist Defamation Letter

If things can’t be worked out amicably, then try a cease and desist letter. Consult with an attorney and figure out whether to focus on defamation, unfair business practices, or another civil tort.

In many instances, cease and desist letters are enough to motivate adversaries. But not all entities are easily persuaded.

Now, that doesn’t mean that small businesses should give up in the face of online disparagement. If a cease and desist letter doesn’t work, you can always file a lawsuit. While the process may take a tad bit longer than you’d like, the rewards can be significant.

File A Business Defamation Lawsuit

You can choose to pursue a defamation lawsuit pro se – meaning you represent yourself – or you can hire a business defamation lawyer, with an excellent track record, who doesn’t cost a fortune.

Based on the circumstances, we’ll determine the friendliest jurisdiction. Then, we’ll get to work crafting the most convincing defamation case, using the most appropriate case law, while drawing upon their nuanced understanding of both state and federal defamation law.

Lance Armstrong Defamation: The Times Wants Its Money Back

Picture of Lance Armstrong to accompany article about Lance Armstrong defamation case against London Times
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Another Lance Armstrong defamation case is making headlines. This time, UK-based newspaper, The London Sunday Times, is considering a suit against the famous cyclist to recoup monies lost in a 2006 libel lawsuit.

Doping Scandal Legal Woes

As you’ve surely heard by now, officials stripped the Tour de France champ of his wins on account of an “overwhelming” amount of evidence that Armstrong doped and helped teammates dope.

The USADA verdict came after years of speculation that Armstrong’s “super human” abilities weren’t solely the result of hard work. During those years, several media outlets — including the Times — published reports that either blankly accused Armstrong of doping or strongly suggested dirty deeds.

Lance Armstrong Defamation Case Against David Walsh

In 2004, the Times published an article. It referenced a popular “anti-Armstrong” book entitled L.A. Confidential — Les Secrets de Lance Armstrong, co-written by David Walsh, a London Sunday Times reporter.

Armstrong sued for defamation over the article and won, because at the time, UK had the most plaintiff-friendly libel laws in the world. (The statutes have since been changed.)

USADA Report Revelations Lead To More Lance Armstrong Defamation Lawsuits

But eventually, the truth caught up with Armstrong. USADA published tomes of evidence and said the cyclist helped orchestrate one of “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”

When the receipts dropped, a rash of Lance Armstrong defamation cases landed in court coffers. Parties that had previously lost libel suits against the athlete wanted their money back! The London Sunday Times, being one of those parties, is said to be “considering taking action to recover money spent on a libel case Armstrong brought and to pursue him for fraud.”

We’ll have to wait to see what tact the newspaper chooses in this sports defamation situation. In the meantime, Lance Armstrong has much bigger things to worry about, like not being re-upped as a Nike endorser and stepping down from Livestrong.

Los Angeles Defamation Lawsuit: Lufti v. Spears

picture of frog munching on popcorn to accompany a blog post about spears v. lufti los angeles defamation lawsuitGrab popcorn! The Los Angeles defamation lawsuit of the decade is underway. In one corner stands mother of the ex-Mrs. Popozao, Lynne Spears. In the other corner slinks Sam “I was Britney’s manager during breakdown-gate” Lufti.

Here’s the libel lowdown:

  1. In 2008, Britney Spears’ mother, Lynne, wrote a book called “Through the Storm: A Real Story of Fame and Family in a Tabloid World.”
  2. In 2009, Sam Lufti sued over accounts in the book that he allegedly tried to manipulate Britney.
  3. Last month a judge ruled that Britney couldn’t testify at the trial, on account of her conservatorship.
  4. Jury selection started, in a Los Angeles court room, on Friday.

The Specific Accusations In This Los Angeles Defamation Lawsuit

Accusations of manipulative behavior and using the paparazzi as “henchmen” prompted Lufti’s suit. Apparently, Lynne’s book painted Britney’s then-manager as a money hungry opportunist who isolated and cajoled her fragile daughter. Essentially, Lynne blamed Sam for Britney’s infamous public meltdown.

Lufti Claims Libel

Lufti denies Lynne’s claims and insists he always had Brit’s best interests in mind. The accusations, Lufti asserts, “subjected [him] to unfathomable amounts of ridicule and public scorn.”

The Role “Actual Malice” Will Play In This Los Angeles Defamation Lawsuit

The Lufti v. Spears celebrity defamation kerfuffle will definitely involve discussions of actual malice. Why? Because Britney, Lynne, and arguably Sam (since he thrust himself into the spotlight) are all public figures. Ever since the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in a groundbreaking case, New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, that public figures, in defamation lawsuits, must prove their adversaries either a) acted with reckless disregard for the truth or b) purposefully lied to cause material or reputational damage. As Spears’ lawyer put it, “the burden is on Lutfi to prove that the statements in the book are untrue and that his client knew they were false.”

This Los Angeles defamation case is expected to take about three weeks.

Update: The judge threw the case out! Looks like Lufti lost this Los Angeles defamation lawsuit.

Two Political Defamation Cases: French Troublemakers and Financial Accusations

vote sign to accompany a blog post about political defamation casesLately, political defamation cases are all the rage! Let’s review two recent suits:

  1. A French slander lawsuit involving The Troublemaker, a book sprinkled with gossipy prurient tidbits about the country’s first lady and president;
  2. A defamation battle over aggressive campaign ads in Oklahoma, involving accusations of financial impropriety and incompetence.

Political Defamation Cases: Accusations of Infidelity Lead To Lawsuit

The French have a reputation for adulterous acceptance. But politics are politics, and the public rarely looks kindly on elected officials with a yen for extramarital endeavors, even in France.

The stigma attached to infidelity is probably the reason why Valérie Trierweiler, the domestic partner of France’s current president, Francois Hollande, is suing two authors, Alix Bouilhaguet and Christophe Jakubyszyn, for defamation. The pair wrote a book called “La Frondeuse” (The Troublemaker”), which characterizes Trierweiler as a “narcissistic woman, using at once her charms to get what she wants and in the following second, showing her fangs when something displeases her.”

Now, if the literary duo stopped there, things may have blown over. But they also accused Trierweiler of cheating on Francois Hollande with notable French politician, Patrick Devedjian. Alix and Christophe also claim that notorious charmer, Nicolas Sarkozy, once made a pass at Victoria, which she blatantly rebuffed.

Political Defamation Cases: Campaign Ads Result In Libel Lawsuit

Back on this side of the pond, Dave Spence, a Missouri gubernatorial candidate running against incumbent governor Jay Nixon, filed a libel claim. The tussle involves campaign ad accusations that Spence’s bank executive past.

Filed in Cole County Circuit Court, the suit avers that Spence (a) did not use federal bailout money to buy himself a vacation home and (b) did not make bad investments that ran his bank “into the ground.” Since the defendant, in a campaign spot, said Spence did use federal money and mismanage investments, the plaintiff is charging defamation.

Both parties are lobbing aggressive sound bites to the media. Oren Shur, Nixon’s campaign manager, opined, “You see a lot of crazy stunts during the course of a campaign, but this frivolous lawsuit is misguided and desperate.” Spence, not to be outdone in the “red meat throwing” department chided that Nixon has “sold his soul to the devil.”

Who will likely win the Spence v. Nixon showdown? If the former can unequivocally prove that he didn’t misuse the bailout money or make bad investments, plus refute any evidence to the contrary, then he could eek out a win. Otherwise, this may just be posturing – which, let’s face it, is part of the political game, on both sides of the isle.

Need to speak with a defamation attorney? Get in touch today.