Law of Defamation in Massachusetts
In the state of Massachusetts, if a person publishes a false defamatory statement about you to a third party, harming or injuring your reputation, then you have the right to take legal action.
This article will explain how to recognize defamatory statements and go over the specific elements of defamation in Massachusetts. The article will also introduce you to DoNotPay, an AI-Powered Robot Lawyer that can draft a formal cease and desist letter on your behalf.
Massachusetts Definition of Defamation
Defamation is defined as written or spoken publication of a false statement to a third party, harming another person’s reputation. US law classifies defamation as a “tort,” which is a civil injury. This means the victim of defamation has the right to recover the damages or injuries they suffered.
Slander and Libel
- Libel: written or published defamatory statements to a third party, causing serious damage to another person’s reputation.
- Slander: spoken defamatory statements to a third party, causing serious harm to another person’s reputation
In Massachusetts, a plaintiff succeeds in their defamation claim if they can prove the following five elements:
||If the statement is true, then the defamation claim fails|
||The statement must clearly refer to the plaintiff such that the third party can easily identify the plaintiff by name.|
||The defendant publicized the statement such that a third party could hear it. It is not defamation if the statement was only communicated to the plaintiff.|
||The defendant either intended people to believe the statement as the truth or was negligent in publishing the statement such that they did not care to question its truthfulness.|
||The plaintiff must prove that the statement caused economic damages, or it was defamation per se|
Defamation Per Se
There are four cases of defamatory statements that fall under defamation per se. If a defamatory statement is made under these categories, then the plaintiff does not need to prove material damage and economic losses so that the case can succeed. Massachusetts law recognizes that these statements are so damaging that they are always considered defamatory. They are:
- Statements charging the plaintiff with criminal conduct
- Statements claiming the plaintiff suffers from a certain disease
- Statements claiming the plaintiff is incompetent in their profession
- Statements constituting libel
Defamation Per Quod
If a false defamatory statement does not fall under the above categories that make it a per se claim, then it will most probably be classified as a per quod statement.
Per quod statements require the plaintiff to provide evidence of economic and non-economic damages they have suffered due to the published defamatory statements.
Massachusetts Pleading Standard for Defamation
Pleadings are formal documents and statements submitted to initiate legal action. The most commonly filed pleadings in Massachusetts have the following order:
- Complaint: the plaintiff files a defamation complaint, outlining the accusation, their argument, and the facts of the case. This can also include a statement of the damages caused.
- Answer: the defendant’s answer to the formal complaint addressing the facts and accusations and arguments made by the plaintiff.
- Reply: the plaintiff’s response to the new claims and arguments raised by the answer of the defendant
- Counterclaim: at times, the defendant can raise their own legal claim against the defendant.
Should You Write a Defamation Cease and Desist Letter?
The first step to take if you are a victim of defamation is drafting a cease and desist letter. A cease and desist letter is a document that is sent to the defendant to stop the alleged illegal activity and not publicize defamatory statements.
For the letter to be successful, it must be convincing, and it must include accurate details of the case, proof that the statements are defamatory (such that they meet all 5 elements of defamation), and prove that serious material damages and harm to your reputation were caused by these statements.
It is very critical that the letter is drafted professionally, therefore you must not draft your own cease and desist letter. A lawyer will always be helpful and draft a convincing letter, however, most lawyers are extremely expensive and the majority of the population cannot afford their help.
Therefore, DoNotPay is the best option for you!
Get A Cease and Desist Letter From DoNotPay!
DoNotPay can draft a cease and desist letter with the information about the case! It’ll warn the defendant that if they do not revoke their defamatory statements, then you will take more serious legal action to seek monetary damages. All you have to do is follow these three simple steps:
1. Look for the “Defamation Demand Letter” product on DoNotPay.
2. Explain your situation, including whether the false statements made were libel or slander. List the statements that were said and explain why they are false and outline the consequences you have suffered as a result.
3. Based on your location DoNotPay will generate a cease and desist letter on your behalf with the relevant state legislation outlined.
Other Documents DoNotPay Drafts…
- Non-Disclosure Agreement
- Lease Agreement
- Bill of Sale
- Minor Travel Consent Form
- Parenting Plan
- And more!