Kansas Defamation Laws & Standards
From 40-2404 of Kansas State Statutes: Defamation. Making, publishing, disseminating or circulating, directly or indirectly, or aiding, abetting or encouraging the making, publishing, disseminating or circulating of any oral or written statement or any pamphlet, circular, article or literature which is false, or maliciously critical of or derogatory to the financial condition of any person, and which is calculated to injure such person.
Defining Defamation in Kansas
In Kansas, defamation is defined as a harmful false statement(s) of fact, made to a third party, without the consent of the person or business referenced in the statement(s). Libel is written or graphic defamation; slander is auditory or spoken defamation.
What Plaintiffs Need To Prove To Win A Slander or Libel Lawsuit in Kansas
To win a defamation lawsuit in Kansas, the plaintiff must prove that the statement:
- Is false;
- Caused material or reputational harm to befall the plaintiff;
- Was made by the defendant about the plaintiff;
Additionally, Kansas defamation plaintiffs must prove that the defendant acted either negligent or with actual malice.
Kansas Defamation Statute of Limitations
A civil suit brought against a defendant for libel or slander must be brought within one year from the time the original statement was made.
Different Rules For Private Figures and Public Figures
A public figure is someone who is recognized by the average person (i.e., someone famous). Additionally, in Kansas, anyone who acts in an official capacity, by virtue of his or her public service as a government official – elected or appointed – is considered a public figure.
Public figures have the opportunity to file a cause of action for defamation of character, but they must prove that the defendant acted with actual malice.
Private figures only have to prove negligence.
Allowable Slander and Libel Defenses in Kansas
As in all states, truth and privilege are reliable defenses against defamation charges.
Defendants in Kansas can also claim “fair reportage” or “pure opinion” if the statement is made in either a news report or in conjunction with legislative or legal proceedings. The burden of proof, however, rests on the plaintiff to demonstrate that the defendant spoke out with either actual malice and negligence when communicating an alleged defamatory statement to a third party.
Kansas Defamation Per Se
Plaintiffs in Kansas can bring charges of defamation per se against a defendant who makes statements that:
- Cause harm to a business;
- Allege sexual promiscuity or horrible disease; or
- Accuse a person or business of criminality.
Plaintiffs filing defamation per se cases in Kansas do not have to prove damages because the statements are, by themselves, defamatory. The plaintiff only needs to prove that a false and malicious statement was made.
Recoverable Damages Allowed by Kansas State Law
Kansas defamation plaintiffs can lobby for punitive and compensatory damages. Defendants also are given the opportunity to present mitigating evidence to lower the amount awarded to a successful plaintiff.