Suing for slander…so, someone has defamed you and you have decided to sue them for slander. Before you even begin talking to a defamation attorney, you need to be sure that you have a case. Even after you begin working with an attorney, you should also familiarize yourself with the key points of suing for slander so that you can better help yourself. So today, we’re talking about those key points.
Suing for Slander: Key Points You Need to Understand
Slander is NOT the Same Thing as Libel
We published an article that goes into the difference between libel and slander in more detail not too long ago, but the bottom line is, when suing for slander, you have to be sure that the defamation that took place was actually slander and not libel.
Slander and libel are both considered to be defamation, slander, however, refers to a SPOKEN statement.
You Must Be Able to Prove Negligence
In the state of Florida, as a PRIVATE person bringing a defamation lawsuit against someone, you must generally be able to prove that the person against whom you are bringing the case was, in the very least, negligent with respect to the truth or falsity of the allegedly defamatory statements that they made.
That means that if you cannot prove that someone who made an allegedly slanderous statement about you knew that the statement they made was false and made it anyway or that the person wasn’t honest with the truth in regard to the statement that they made, you are going to have a difficult time proving that they are guilty of slander.
Public Figures Are Not Subject to the Same Defamation Laws
In the state of Florida, a public figure is not subject to the same defamation laws as a private person. This is because the public has a right under the first amendment to freely speak about the official conduct of a public figure. If, however, the public figure can prove that there is clear and convincing proof that the alleged defamatory statement was made with malice.
What classifies you as a public figure?
Someone is considered a public figure if…
(1) he has achieved such pervasive fame or notoriety that he becomes a public figure for all purposes and contexts (celebrities or sports figures); or (2) where he voluntarily assumes a central role in a particular public controversy (i.e. a prominent community activist) and thereby becomes a public figure for that limited range of issues.
Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc., 418 U.S. 323 (1974).
So, what classifies as malice?
The court views malice in regard to the defamation of a public figure as the knowledge that the statement being made is false or the reckless disregard as to the truth or falsity of the statement being made.
Defamation is characterized as either slander or libel and in some areas, they are grouped together under the single definition of “defamation”. Rarely do people refer to a “defamation lawyer” however, so how do you hire an attorney to help with suing for slander if you don’t know what type of lawyer to hire?
When shopping for an attorney, the topic of defamation falls under the jurisdiction of a personal injury attorney.
Anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuits against public participation) Laws
A few years ago, various states enacted Anti-SLAPP laws. The purpose of these laws was to prevent government agencies or large corporations from shutting down public criticism by filing frivolous lawsuits for defamation. These laws tend to vary from state to state as to how lenient or stringent they are.
In the state of Florida, the anti-SLAPP law was established in 2000, the details of this law can be found in Florida Statute 768.295
(1) It is the intent of the Legislature to protect the right in Florida to exercise the rights of free speech in connection with public issues, and the rights to peacefully assemble, instruct representatives, and petition for redress of grievances before the various governmental entities of this state as protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and s. 5, Art. I of the State Constitution. It is the public policy of this state that a person or governmental entity not engage in SLAPP suits because such actions are inconsistent with the right of persons to exercise such constitutional rights of free speech in connection with public issues. Therefore, the Legislature finds and declares that prohibiting such lawsuits as herein described will preserve this fundamental state policy, preserve the constitutional rights of persons in Florida, and assure the continuation of representative government in this state. It is the intent of the Legislature that such lawsuits be expeditiously disposed of by the courts.
Suing for Slander in St Petes?
If you plan on suing for slander in St Petes, Weidner Law can help you. Dedicated to protecting consumer rights and fighting defamation for Floridians since 1999, Attorney Matt Weidner is here to help you set the record straight!