In a defamation case, a plaintiff has to prove the following:
1. The defendant published a defamatory statement;
2. The statement identified the plaintiff to a third person;
3. The statement was published to a third person; and
4. The plaintiff's reputation was injured.
The last of these requirements is where the majority of potential defamation cases fail. Damages must quantifiable and not speculative. It is not an automatic that a defamatory statement caused injury.
A recent case illustrates the type of harm judges require in a defamation case.
The defendant alleged made two false reports to police concerning the plaintiff. He was arrested both times. A business associate saw the plaintiff being arrested. The plaintiff was fired. The plaintiff also lost his driver's license which prevented him from driving a truck or limo. As a result, he was unemployed for 19 months.
The judge awarded the plaintiff $600 per night he spent in jail, $1,000 for his criminal bonds, $1,450 for a security deposit and $23,000 for emotional distress and loss of reputation.
So when considering whether you have a defamation case think about how you were harmed and how you can prove it in court.
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