A Guide to the New York Defamation Law
What is defamation and what can you do if someone publishes defamatory statements against you?
In this article, we will explain what constitutes defamation under the eyes of the New York legal system. We will also provide solutions or what legitimate actions you can take under the New York defamation law.
What Constitutes Defamation of Character in NY
Defamation is a civil rights lawsuit where a defendant made inaccurate statements about you or your business, which resulted in harm. There are two types of defamation: slander and libel. Slander is an act of making a false oral statement about a person or business, while libel is making a false written statement about another person through publications, social media, or blogs. Statements that will always be considered defamatory without the need to prove their harm is called defamation per se. There are four elements of defamation and defamation per se as follows:
|Defamation of Character||Defamation Per Se|
|Someone made a false oral or written statement||Charging the plaintiff with a serious crime|
|The subject of the statement is the plaintiff||Claiming the plaintiff has an abhorrent health condition|
|Someone published or spoke the statement without privilege to others||Charging the plaintiff of sexual misconduct|
|The plaintiff was injured or harmed as a result||Claims that harm the plaintiff’s trade or profession|
Grounds for Suing for Defamation of Character in NY
To have a legal case of defamation, you need to fulfill specific elements of the lawsuit. For instance, the statement has to be false. The legal grounds for suing defamation is that you were harmed as a result of the false statement. Here below are the legal grounds for defamation of character lawsuit in New York:
- Harm to reputation – The most common legal ground for defamation is an injury to professional reputation. For example, someone who made a false statement about the businessman indicating dishonest practices, may harm the businessman’s reputation and result in customers taking their business elsewhere. Another example is when someone sends a company email that is injurious to your character and results in your employer terminating your employment.
- Financial harm – Examples of this include losing existing business, losing your job, or losing a business opportunity or a chance at promotion at your employment. Most often, financial harm comes together with harm to reputation.
Defamation on Social Media
Although online content is usually moderated, most online content can be considered defamatory. However, due to the Communications Decency Act of 1996, it is not a legitimate option for plaintiffs to make a defamation claim against ISPs, social media platforms, and website hosts.
Plaintiffs who suffered online defamation should go after the person or entity that made the defamatory statement. This means filing a lawsuit in an appropriate state court. Online defamation has the same elements as traditional defamation lawsuits. Some examples of situations that constitute online defamation are as follows:
- Statements of fact – If the defendant’s defamatory statement was true, the plaintiff’s defamation claim may not hold in court. For example, if a customer posts on Facebook that a restaurant has a rat infestation, the restaurant owner may sue the customer for defamation as long as the owner can prove that there was no rat infestation.
- Opinions – Under the law, opinions are a privilege. Plaintiffs may not be able to claim defamation against an opinion. However, if a reasonable person may view the opinion as a statement of fact, the court may take a similar stance.
- Alterations – A clear example of defamation is modified photos that harm a person or business’s reputation. Since these photos have the potential to go viral, the more it becomes injurious, the more incriminating the lawsuit becomes.
Points to Consider When Drafting a Defamation Cease and Desist Letter
The usual elements of cease and desist letters include the name and address of both plaintiff and defendant, a demand to stop the defamatory statement, and a request for a return receipt. However, before you draft a defamation cease and desist letter, there are certain points you need to consider:
- Your language must use words and phrases that place the offender “on notice” and that you are not afraid to pursue severe legal actions if needed.
- Make sure to include relevant case law or statutes in your legal claim. This shows your seriousness and that you have done the necessary research.
- Your letter should not be too aggressive and not offensive.
- Your cease and desist letter must be strong enough to get the recipient’s attention but must not have falsified statements or be too aggressive.
DoNotPay Can Draw Up A Defamation Cease and Desist Letter for You in Minutes!
There are many considerations when writing a cease and desist letter. It should be able to clearly show how you were harmed and backed by the appropriate legal grounds. Above all, it must be convincing enough to compel the perpetrator to stop his/her defamatory statements.
Although there are several templates available online, they sometimes lack the necessary legal elements. Hiring a lawyer to draft a cease and desist letter can ensure its effectiveness. However, it can be too costly. This is where DoNotPay can help. We are the world’s first robot lawyer and we can help you draft a defamation cease and desist letter quickly and easily. All you have to do:
1. Search Defamation on DoNotPay.
2. Tell us about your situation, including whether the statements were libel or slander, listing the statements that were made, explaining why they are false or misleading, and what consequences you have suffered as a result.
3. Based on your location, DoNotPay will generate a formal demand letter on your behalf with the most relevant state legislation regarding defamation.
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