Defamation is also called as libel. It is a falsified oral or written communication about another person that unfairly destroys the reputation of such a person. In many cases defamation may constitute a civil wrong or a crime.
Under common law, to constitute defamation, a claim must generally be false and must have been made to someone other than the person defamed. Some common law jurisdictions also distinguish between spoken defamation, called slander, and defamation in other media such as printed words or images, called libel. In the United States, false light laws protect against statements which are not technically false but are misleading.
The United Nations Human Rights Committee ruled in 2012 that the libel law of one country, the Philippines, was inconsistent with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as urging that “State parties [to the Covenant] should consider the decriminalization of libel”. In Saudi Arabia, defamation of the state, or a past or present ruler, is punishable under terrorism legislation.
- A misleading or bogus assertion implying to be a fact,
- A false statement made in reference to a third person,
- Negligence on the part of the person making such statements,
- As a result, some harm has been caused to a person or entity,
- Example: damage to someone’s reputation due to false sexual harassment allegations.
Each state in the United States of America, have their own version of the anti-defamation statute. As such each interpretation for defamation naturally varies. Now, let us look at some case laws as example.
In a New York State Court case of Davis vs Boeheim, it was held that “contested statements are reasonably susceptible of a defamatory connotation”.
In the case of Thomas H. vs Paul B., it was held that, “In order for the challenged statements to be susceptible of a defamatory connotation, they must come within the well-established categories of actionable communications. Thus, a false statement “that tends to expose a person to public contempt, hatred, ridicule, aversion or disgrace constitutes defamation.”
In the case of Gross v New York Times Co, it was held that falsity is a necessary element to prove defamation as only statements alleging facts can properly subject of defamation action.”
In the case of Mann vs Abel, it stated that, when statements constitutes as mere opinions it cannot attract a defamation lawsuit.
In the case of Hotchner v Castillo-Puche, it was held, “while a pure opinion cannot be the subject of a defamation claim, an opinion that “implies that it is based upon facts which justify the opinion but are unknown to those reading or hearing it, is a ‘mixed opinion’ and is actionable“
In the case of Levinsky’s, Inc., Plaintiff, Appellee, v. Wal-mart Stores, Inc., Defendant, Appellant, 127 F.3d 122 (1st Cir. 1997) held that negligence was an important element in proving any defamation claims.
- The statement so made was in a moment of heat and said in contempt or malice,
- That the person making such statements at the time believes it to be false.
The primary holding of the case held that, “To sustain a claim of defamation or libel, the First Amendment requires that the plaintiff show that the defendant knew that a statement was false or was reckless in deciding to publish the information without investigating whether it was accurate.”
The 1st Amendment of the US Constitution is intended to protect freedom of speech and press. However, what the written Code failed to foresee was the risk of the rule on libel cases. Later Supreme Court cases barred strict liability for libel and forbade libel claims for statements that are so ridiculous as to be obviously facetious. Latest lawsuits have further improved precedent on defamation law.
This article is meant to be treated as a generic information and not legal advice. For more information on Defamation cases and if you know somebody who is been wrongly defamed contact @Layman Litigation.
 Defamation - Wikipedia  Linda L. Edwards, J. Stanley Edwards, Patricia Kirtley Wells, Tort Law for Legal Assistants, Cengage Learning, 2008, p. 390. "Libel refers to written defamatory statements; slander refers to oral statements. Libel encompasses communications occurring in 'physical form'... defamatory statements on records and computer tapes are considered libel rather than slander."  Edward C. Martin. "False light". Archived February 27, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. Cumberland School of Law, Samford University.  "Libel law violates freedom of expression – UN rights panel". The Manila Times. 30 January 2012. Archived from the original on 17th April 2022.  "Saudi Arabia passes anti-terror law, banning defamation". Gulf News. Retrieved 17th April 2022.  Davis v. Boeheim, 110 A.D.3d 1431 (N.Y. 2014), Retrieved from: Davis v Boeheim (2014 NY Slip Op 07083) (nycourts.gov)  Thomas H. v Paul B., 18 NY3d 580, 584   Refer the case of Gross v New York Times Co., 82 NY2d 146, 152-153   Mann Vs Abel, 10 NY3d 271, 276 (2008). Retrieved from: Mann v Abel (2008 NY Slip Op 02675) (nycourts.gov)  Refer case of Hotchner v Castillo-Puche, 551 F2d 910, 913 [2d Cir 1977].  Levinsky's, Inc., Plaintiff, Appellee, v. Wal-mart Stores, Inc., Defendant, Appellant, 127 F.3d 122 (1st Cir. 1997) :: Justia  New York Times Co. v. Sullivan :: 376 U.S. 254 (1964) :: Justia US Supreme Court Center  United States defamation law - Wikipedia