Tennessee Defamation Laws
Tennessee Defamation Statute of Limitations
In Tennessee, defamation occurs when a person (through written or oral statements) damages the character or reputation of another person. Defamation falls under civil law in Tennessee. The statute of limitations in TN is a mere six months.
One form of defamation handled within Tennessee law is called Libel. Libel involves suing over written statements made by a person which are intended to damage one’s character. Even if the written statement is technically true, the offending person can still be held liable for damaging the other person.
Another form of defamation is called slander. Slander involves suing over spoken statements made with the same intention as in libel cases. Both forms of defamation are handled with similar process within the Tennessee court system.
Here is a case in point demonstrating rightful cause to sue for defamation. A couple just experienced a bitter breakup, and one person chooses to publish offensive statements about the other person via social media. The other person chooses to proceed with a libel case in a Tennessee court. Because there is published proof of the offense, and the person’s character is damaged from the incident, this person has rightful cause to proceed with their case. Slander may be more difficult to prove unless there is recorded proof of an offense. Types of recorded proof which create a strong case include voice mails and videos with audible instances of an offense.
In Tennessee, the court system requires that four elements be present to go forward with a defamation case. The statement (libel or slander) must be presented in court, and the statement must be made available to a third party (such as lawyer). Also, for cases that show acts of malice, statements must show there is “public concern” over the intensity of the damage. An example of this: a person falsely declares that another person has a sexually transmitted disease over a social media site, and hundreds of people saw the statement. In cases involving acts of malice, the defendant in the case may also be liable for negligence. Finally, the plaintiff in the case must establish a level of mental anguish and damage from the statement.
Filing for defamation should take place after consulting with a qualified attorney. The attorney will help file all paperwork necessary to build a case and give the plaintiff an idea of what to expect as the case progresses. Tennessee also handles defamation cases involving statements made in the workplace, including sexual harassment. For example, if an employer makes a spoken statement to other persons at the workplace about physically attributes of the plaintiff, this person has the right to sue for slander. In cases involving slander, witnesses may be called to testify about any instances of defamation, and retribution may be calculated based upon the level of mental anguish experienced by the plaintiff.
Defamation lawsuits are not taken lightly within Tennessee law, and a consultation with a lawyer should be arranged shortly after any instance of libel or slander.