Wisconsin Defamation Law Explained

Defamation Demand Letters Wisconsin Defamation Law Explained

Overview of Wisconsin Defamation Law

Defamation is a false or derogatory statement that is published to a third party with the intent to harm or damage that person’s reputation. The individual harmed can file a defamation lawsuit. The statement must be false and communicated to a third party without privilege to be considered defamation.

Slander vs Libel

  1. Libel is a written or published defamatory statement that leaves a permanent record. It is commonly found in print media such as newspapers and magazines, and on the internet, on websites, and social media.
  2. Slander includes spoken defamatory statements that leave no permanent record. It is commonly found in public places, television programs, podcasts, by phone, or face-to-face conversations.

Wisconsin Defamation Law

Defamation laws in Wisconsin are defined by the following elements:

  1. A person who intentionally communicates a defamatory statement to a third party without the consent of the person defamed is guilty of a class A misdemeanor.
  2. A defamatory statement includes anything that exposes a person to contempt, hatred, disgrace, ridicule or degradation in society, or harm to that person’s business.
  3. A statement is not defamatory if it is true or communicated with good motives.
  4. A person cannot be convicted on the basis of slander unless two witnesses can testify that they heard and understood the statement as defamatory, or unless the defendant pleads guilty.

Defamation per se

Certain statements are so injurious that they are automatically considered defamation, and the plaintiff does not need to prove material damage so that they can succeed in the case. These statements fall under the four following categories:

  1. Allegations of committing a crime
  2. Allegations of a loathsome disease
  3. Allegations of unchastity
  4. Statements regarding the plaintiff’s ability to work

Defamation per quod

  • If a statement does not fall under the “per se” categories, then it is considered defamation per quod.
  • Defamation per quod requires the plaintiff to submit supporting evidence that the statement is defamatory

Evidence of Damages to the Plaintiff

In Wisconsin, if the statement published about you is not defamation per se, then you must be able to prove the damages you have suffered in order for your case to succeed. These damages could include:

  • Loss of income
  • Loss of business opportunities
  • Loss of current and future clients
  • Inability to gain new employment
  • Loss of employment
  • Emotional distress
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Mental health challenges caused by the defamatory statements

Wisconsin’s Pleading Standard for Defamation

Pleadings are formal written documents and statements that are first filed to initiate legal action. The plaintiff first files the pleadings, which generally include:

  • A statement of the facts of the case
  • The allegations and assertions
  • The plaintiff's main arguments of the case and its fundamental issues.

After filing the pleads, the defendant has an opportunity to respond to the allegations and issues that the plaintiff set forth

The most common pleading types in the U.S. are:

  • Complaint: the first formal document filed by the plaintiff, where they outline their claims, arguments, and issues and request compensation for the damages.
  • Answer: the defendant’s response to the complaint the plaintiff filed. The defendant usually rebuts and address the plaintiff’s allegations and arguments
  • Reply: the plaintiff’s response to a defendant’s answer.
  • Counterclaim: in certain cases, a defendant has the option to file a separate legal claim against the plaintiff to offset the plaintiff’s initial complaint.

Wisconsin Defamation Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations determines how long Wisconsin defamation plaintiffs have to bring their claim. The statute of limitations for libel and slander in Wisconsin is three years, which is one of the longest defamation statutes of limitation in the United States.

The statute of limitation varies according to state, the table below shows the statute of limitation for defamation for various states in the United States:

StateStatute of Limitation for Defamation
VirginiaOne Year
MichiganOne Year
OhioOne Year
TexasOne Year
CaliforniaOne Year
FloridaTwo Years
NevadaTwo Years
MassachusettsThree Years
WisconsinThree Years

Should You Write a Defamation Cease and Desist Letter?

If you live in Wisconsin and you are a victim of defamation, then you can draft a defamation cease and desist letter before taking more drastic action.

Writing a defamation cease and desist letter on your own is not your best option. It is important to accurately prove the harm that you have suffered in a convincing letter, or you risk that it would be disregarded by the perpetrator, lowering its chance to succeed, even if the trial moves to court.

Let DoNotPay Draft a Cease and Desist Letter for You!

DoNotPay is a fast and reliable service that can draft a cease and desist letter. All you need to do is:

1. Select the Defamation Demand Letters product on DoNotPay.

2. Explain your situation. Indicate whether the false statements made were libel or slander, list the statements 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 formal demand letter on your behalf with the most relevant state legislation regarding defamation.

That is it! You can expect a copy of the letter to your email!

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