What is a Defamation Lawsuit?
Have you seen the news today? This morning it was revealed that a former contestant of “The Apprentice” is suing President-Elect Donald Trump for defamation. Summer Zervos, who alleges that Trump had sexually assaulted her in 2007, is saying that the next president had lied to the nation about his behavior.
According to Ms. Zevos, Trump had “debased and denigrated” her when he called her claims to be false. “Since Mr. Trump has not issued a retraction, as I requested, he has therefore left me with no alternative but to sue him in order to vindicate my reputation,” she said during a press conference yesterday.
So what exactly is defamation lawsuit? First, let’s give you the legal definition of defamation. This is generally a catch-all term for any statement someone makes about you that hurts your reputation. It’s not a criminal case but is part of tort law. There are two types of defamation:
- Libel –This is when someone writes something hurtful about someone else. For instance, a new article that slams someone which ruins that person’s reputation, that paper can be sued for defamation.
- Slander – This is when someone speaks about you that hurts your character, such as the case above.
In New Jersey, to prove that defamation occurred, there are four elements that need to be present in the claim:
- That a false statement about the plaintiff was given
- The communication of that statement was given to a third party
- The negligence of the defendant’s actions
- The damages that the plaintiff had suffered because of the statement
It’s important to note that the statement must be false to be considered defamatory. Otherwise, it’s not considered damaging. For example, a journalist criticizing a restaurant’s food as being lousy is not considered defamation because it’s impossible to prove the statement is false.
As you can imagine, it can be difficult for public officials to prove defamation. Thanks to our First Amendment and the landmark 1964 case New York Times v. Sullivan, we have the write to criticize the people who govern our nation. According to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling, public officials could only sure for statements made about their public conduct only if those statements created “actual malice.” This means the person knew the statement wasn’t true or didn’t care about the consequences.
If you need legal help considering someone’s negligence toward you, let us help. Contact the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone today for a free consultation.