Understanding the Logistics of Suing for Libel as a Public Figure
Defamation is a crime and can carry great consequences for the offender. When a person posits false and injurious statements against another, causing them to harm in terms of their finances, reputation, opportunities, or physical and mental health, it can be classified as defamation. Under the blanket term of defamation, you have to show that one of two types of defamation has been levied against you — slander or libel. Slander is any speech or gesture that causes another person harm, and libel is a harmful statement that has been written or published in some format.
If you have been defamed and wish to end it as soon as possible, you may choose to file a “cease and desist” letter, warning the individual that you will pursue legal action if the defamation continues. If you wish to learn about the intricacies of defamation in relevance to public figures and people of authority, continue reading below.
How Does The Legal System Define Defamation
In the laws of the United States, the first and most important step in establishing a defamation case is to define what kind of defamation has occurred and to what extent before continuing. First, read below to determine whether your case is a legitimate case of defamation:
How are Slander and Libel Different?
- Slander and libel are the two forms of defamation, and they deviate only slightly
- Identifying the type of defamation that has occurred enables you to draft your cease and desist letter then proceed with your case of defamation
Not All Defamatory Speech is Protected
Although defamation seems open-and-shut, it is not as simple as it seems to prove defamation. Depending on the circumstances of the defamatory statements, you may not have grounds to sue in your case.
Protections by Freedom of Speech Laws
- The First Amendment of the US Constitution provides protection of an individual against damaging false statements made against you — at the same time, it also protects the individual’s right to speech, creating a very fine line
- Thus, defamation is not really illegal but is instead a moral dilemma that is solved with monetary compensation to the individual instead of state punishment
- If you have been truly defamed, and it is not an exertion of free speech, then you can sue for compensation for your damages
False Light Claims
- When a statement is published that is presented as a fact about an individual when it is false, this may be a false light claim
- Typically, false light claims are made when the defamatory statements have caused the plaintiff mental and emotional damage, rather than financial or reputational damage
- Disparagement specifically deals with the financial interests of the person being defamed, their products, or any patents that they possess
Disparagement is usually meant to protect corporate interests, whereas defamation protects the interests of an individual
- Defamation cases require that a false statement is made. However, matters of opinion by definition cannot be true or false
- An exceptional case occurs when the statement of opinion is not distinguished as such and is continually published, opening grounds for litigation
What Constitutes As A Public Person?
Typically, when we think of a public figure we think of a celebrity or important political consultant, buried deeply in governmental and public affairs. However, this assumption is far from the truth — anyone who is pervasively involved in public life or service can be considered a public figure. Public figures often include:
- Business Owners and Leaders
- Public Service Workers
- Anyone involved in a public controversy that is considered a “limited purpose particular public figure” with relation to a set of issues
What Makes It Harder To Win?
To win a libel lawsuit, typically a public figure must prove that the publisher of the statements or defamation had “actual malice” — a term used to define the fact that whoever published the statements knew the statements they published was false but acted with disregard for that. It is extremely difficult for the typical public figure to prove this.
How to Prove Actual Malice?
Although actual malice is a subjective term, these are the typical grounds required to establish its existence of:
|The Defendant Knew The Statement Was False||The defendant knew the truth behind the statements and whether they were credible or not.|
|The Defendant Acted Subjectively||The defendant chose to subjectively publish the statements with no regard for the harm or reality of the situation.|
|The Subjective Actions Were Equate to Malice||The defendant’s actions equated to malice or intentional slander at the hands of knowing the truth behind a public figure’s life.|
Should You Write A Cease and Desist Letter If You Are A Public Figure?
- Regardless of your status, a cease and desist letter is the best option for anyone who is struggling with slander or libel
- To file a cease and desist letter, you must be confident of the conditions and legality surrounding your case
- Also, consider the logistics — many lawyers charge exorbitant fees for legal advice and drafting letters, so take this opportunity to evaluate whether you’d be prepared for that sad alternative
Discover the DoNotPay Advantage: Draft a Cease and Desist Letter As A Public Figure in Minutes!
DoNotPay is a fast and reliable solution for all, regardless of status! The Cease and Desist letter DoNotPay drafts will detail the information about the case, demand retraction, warn against future statements, and will order that the accused abides by your local state statutes.
All you need to do is:
1. Search Defamation on DoNotPay.
2. Tell us about your situation:
- Were the statements slander or libel?
- What were the statements?
- Why are they false or misleading?
- What consequences have you suffered as a result of these statements?
- Specify that you are a public figure and also specify your scope of work.
3. Based on your location, DoNotPay will immediately generate a formal demand letter on your behalf, with the most relevant state legislation regarding defamation.
That’s it! You can expect an accurate and comprehensively drafted cease and desist letter to your cause, instantly!
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