Louisiana Defamation: Laws and Standards
Louisiana Defamation Law
Louisiana defines defamation as a means of communication – written or spoken – that is meant to injure a person or business’ reputation or livelihood. Under Louisiana law, a private person can sue another person without having to prove actual malice. Private persons only need to demonstrate that the defendant was negligent when communicating the defamatory statement to a third party.
According to Louisiana State Statutes:
Whoever commits the crime of defamation shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars, or imprisoned for not more than six months, or both.
Louisiana Defamation Statute of Limitations
The plaintiff in a defamation case has one year from the time the libelous or slanderous statements were made.
Who is Deemed a Public Figure According to Louisiana Slander and Libel Law?
Someone who has gained fame by his or her celebrity, plus anyone serving as a government official or political figure is considered a “public figure” under LA defamation law.
It is harder for public figures to win slander or libel lawsuits because public figure must prove that actual malice existed on the part of the defendant. The actual malice standard means that the plaintiff has to show that the defendant exhibited a complete disregard for the truth when making alleged defamatory statements against the plaintiff.
Acceptable Louisiana Defamation Defenses
Sections 230 of the CDA
Louisiana recognizes Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act as a valid defense for website operators and ISPs who have not played a role in posting or editing defamatory material online.
As is the case in every state, truth is a valid defense against defamation.
Defendants can claim that the statement under review was transmitted with the expectation of privilege.
If the content in question is not a “per se” statement (see below), then a defendant can win if the plaintiff fails to prove that the incident caused him or her material harm.
Louisiana is a Per Se State
The defamation statutes enacted by Louisiana give plaintiffs the latitude to file a defamation per se complaint against a defendant. Defamation per se is any statement that is, by itself, defamatory. Statements falsely accusing a plaintiff of sexual immorality, false accusations of criminal behavior, or false statements about having a contagious disease, such as HIV/AIDS, are grounds for a per se case.
In defamation per se cases, the plaintiff does not have to prove damages in order to successfully litigate because the statements are prima facie defamatory.
Damages Awarded for Defamation in Louisiana
Louisiana defamation damages include:
- Actual Damages
- Punitive Damages
- Court-Sanctioned Damages