Defamation of Character Lawyers Protect Your Reputation

Determined litigation to redress damage to your career and business

We live in an age of caustic discourse and ”cancel culture,” especially on the internet. But even if social media seems to have rewritten the rules of etiquette, it hasn’t changed the laws of defamation. Businesses and individuals have the right to be free of scurrilous attacks that could hurt their reputations and to receive appropriate compensation when damage results. At Hemmer Wessels McMurtry PLLC, our litigation attorneys have extensive experience with business and personal defamation cases. We represent victims of libel and slander in state and federal courts in several states. We’re prepared to help you protect your reputation and claim the compensation you deserve.

What is defamation of character?

Defamation is a false statement purporting to be fact that causes harm to a person’s reputation. When the statement is made orally, it is slander. When it is written, it is libel. A person who is defamed is entitled to damages, such as financial losses and emotional distress. Punitive damages are also available when the speaker’s conduct was so egregious, the court needs to set an example to deter similar conduct.

To prevail in a defamation lawsuit, a plaintiff must prove these elements:

  • There was a false statement of fact.
  • The statement was published, i.e., communicated to a third person or to the public at large.
  • The person making the statement was negligent in failing to reasonably check its accuracy.
  • The statement was damaging. Certain types of false statements are defamation per se, such as accusing a married person of adultery, which means damages are presumed. Other statements must be proved damaging.

When the victim of defamation is a public figure, he or she is required to prove the speaker acted with actual malice, meaning with knowledge of falsity or with reckless disregard for the truth. This is a higher standard than mere negligence.

Truth is a complete defense to defamation. A defendant can also avoid liability by showing the statement was simply an opinion.

What is internet defamation?

The internet makes the widespread publication of defamatory statements fast and easy. Posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media sites and message boards can be highly damaging to a person’s or a company’s reputation. For example, false statements in a review of your business can cause you to lose customers and revenue.

Victims of internet defamation can try to obtain “take-down orders” requiring the site to remove allegedly false comments. But many laws, such as the Communications Decency Act, protect sites that function as forums for postings by users. If the site exercises no content control, it might not liable for the statements made by users. When a statement is damaging, it is necessary to take action against the poster. However, identifying the poster may be very difficult.

What is considered workplace defamation?

Employees may find themselves in situations where they feel they’ve been defamed. Has an employer or coworker accused you of wrongdoing unfairly and publicly? Has your supervisor filed a performance review that you believe has no basis in fact? Has a former employer made a defamatory statement in a reference that is causing you to lose out on job opportunities? Any of these might be considered workplace defamation. You could be entitled to recover damages based on the setback to your career and other negative effects of the false statement. Our business litigation lawyers can help you restore your reputation and continue your career unimpeded.

Contact our Fort Mitchell business law firm today to discuss your defamation claim

The experienced business attorneys at Hemmer Wessels McMurtry PLLC help individual and business clients bring actions for defamation in Kentucky and across the country. To schedule a consultation, call us at 859-344-1188 or contact us online. Our offices are conveniently located at 250 Grandview Drive, in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky.