Wyoming Defamation Laws

Defining Defamation in Wyoming

To successfully sue for defamation in Wyoming, a plaintiff must prove that the defamation was published or broadcast and heard by more than one person, that the statement was not factual, and that it has caused harm. For public figures, there is the added burden of proving malicious intent.  There is a one year statute of limitations for filing a defamation lawsuit in Wyoming. Also, both W.S. 1-29-104 and 1-29-105 do not protect speech that is blasphemous or indecent.

Private Figure or Public Figure

Those who are in the public spotlight or are thought of as being famous or well-known by reasonable people in the community are held to higher standards when it comes to proving defamation. In addition to the other requirements, they must also show that there was malicious intent in the publication or broadcast of the defaming statements. Radio and television stations are not held liable for what public officials say on the air.

Defenses Allowed for Defamation Cases

One of the main defenses allowed for defamation lawsuits in Wyoming is truth. If the statements that were written or spoken are able to be proved as true, there is no grounds for winning a defamation lawsuit.  A judge will also take into consideration whether the claim is about a privileged statement, such as court proceedings in some cases or information relayed about public meetings – when there is no malicious intent.

Defamation Per Se Civil Suits are Permissible in Wyoming

In Wyoming, plaintiffs can use charges of defamation per se against a defendant who allegedly makes statements to cause harm to a person’s business, alleges sexual promiscuity or that a person has a disease, or makes a false statement about the plaintiff committing a crime. The majority of states allow for per se defamation civil suits.

In these cases, a statement is considered to already have done damage automatically without the plaintiff having to prove the damages. The exact statements that qualify as defamation per se vary between jurisdictions.

Recoverable Damages Allowed by Wyoming State Law

The plaintiff is only allowed the actual damages he has alleged and proved to the court. Just because they allow Defamation per se civil suits does not mean that big awards are automatically given. The exact amount awarded will be determined primarily by the exact damages that occurred and that can be proven.