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Libel/slander vs. opinion

 
 
Reply Wed 28 Nov, 2007 10:47 am
Is it true you can be sued for calling someone a charlatan, but not a mother ******?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 2 • Views: 6,951 • Replies: 7
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contrex
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Nov, 2007 11:40 am
In general you can sue someone who writes and publishes something about you, (which is not true) or says it before witnesses, if what is written or said damages your reputation. You cannot sue someone for calling you a nasty name. Common sense really.
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joefromchicago
 
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Reply Wed 28 Nov, 2007 03:31 pm
Re: Libel/slander vs. opinion
princesspupule wrote:
Is it true you can be sued for calling someone a charlatan, but not a mother ******?

Theoretically, a person can be sued for defamation for any remark that he or she might make. As a practical matter, however, only statements of fact are actionable. It is uncommon for someone to be held liable for expressing an opinion. Thus, if calling someone a "charlatan" is merely name-calling or an expression of an opinion, it is unlikely that the person who made the remark could be successfully sued for defamation. On the other hand, if calling someone a "mother ******" is intended to state a fact that the object of the remark had sexual relations with his mother, that remark may indeed be actionable. Furthermore, in the US, a public figure must show that the statement was made with actual malice or in reckless disregard of the truth.
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aidan
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Nov, 2007 05:08 pm
Joe - how about this situation. In a classroom, the subject matter was converting grams to kilograms, etc. Someone brought up cocaine as a substance to be measured in grams. They asked me (I was the teacher) a question that pertained to the typical measure in which this particular substance was sold to casual users. I said that I had no idea as buying or using this substance was outside of my experience. Another person then suggested that this first person ask another person, whom he specified by name- as this person (he said) was a user and would know this information.

I quashed the conversation as quickly as I could, but I did let these students (some of whom were legal age) know that what they were doing and saying was not only morally wrong and reprehensible, but could be classified as slander. Was I correct? And just for my own information, could a minor be held responsible for speaking slanderously? Also, what about the situation in which what they are saying is actually true? And by that I mean, is it only defamation of character if the information isn't accurate, or can you defame someone's character by broadcasting something that they'd rather keep private and which is within their rights to do so?

Thanks in advance for any information you may be able to give me on this matter.
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Nov, 2007 09:24 pm
aidan wrote:
I quashed the conversation as quickly as I could, but I did let these students (some of whom were legal age) know that what they were doing and saying was not only morally wrong and reprehensible, but could be classified as slander. Was I correct?

Yes. Accusing someone of committing a crime (and using cocaine is a crime) is considered per se defamatory -- i.e. it is so injurious to any ordinary person's reputation that there is no need to prove actual damages in order to prevail in a civil suit.

aidan wrote:
And just for my own information, could a minor be held responsible for speaking slanderously?

Depends on how old the minor is. As a general rule, a minor "of tender years" (about 8 and under) won't be held capable of forming malicious intent. Minors above the age of 8 or so would probably be held to the same standard as adults.

aidan wrote:
Also, what about the situation in which what they are saying is actually true? And by that I mean, is it only defamation of character if the information isn't accurate, or can you defame someone's character by broadcasting something that they'd rather keep private and which is within their rights to do so?

Truth is an absolute defense to a claim of defamation.

If someone broadcasts a private fact about someone, that wouldn't constitute defamation but it could constitute an invasion of privacy. For instance, suppose Patrick has AIDS but does not want that fact known. Daniel distributes fliers in the school saying that Patrick has AIDS. Patrick cannot sue for defamation, since the information is true, but he can sue for invasion of privacy because his medical condition was private and Daniel's revelation of that fact might very well "outrage the public's sense of decency."
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aidan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Nov, 2007 05:00 am
Thanks, that's helpful for me to know.
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caloine22
 
  1  
Reply Mon 7 Nov, 2011 06:15 am
@aidan,
hi, ive got a situation
In an email as i was very worried and paniced, i put, and i quote

me: hey, sorry only just seen your message, im so upset. looks like rob has done a runner

in another email which i sent to everone involved i put
none of us have been paid , i think hes done a runner with the money, you nee to move vsc's ive moved to XXXX XXXXXX, but we wont be getting paid from XXXX
Regards

this was only an opinion as i had received no reply or any correspondence from the person who should have paid us.

This person is threatening to sue me for slander.

is he able to as i expressed it as an opinion. I later replied to everyone saying sorry i paniced and i meant it in no way slanderous and that i had copied everyone in in hope of repairing any damages.

This person is now using swear words when replying to my emails about money i am owed other than what i was due to be paid, as i have received that from the headoffice of the company that give the person the work for us to do. they have confirmed they have paid the person but it didnt get passed to us. I am filing a claim with the small claims court to retreive the rest of the money owed but he is threatening me with slander.

What are your thoughs
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Mon 7 Nov, 2011 02:44 pm
@caloine22,
Let me get this straight: you haven't been paid? And the guy who was supposed to pay you is complaining that you're telling people that he hasn't paid you? Is that the gist of it? Because if it is, I wouldn't worry too much. The last thing a crook wants to do is haul his victim into court.
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