California law generally defines defamation as a false statement of fact that harms the reputation of another. At the Law Office of Ryan T. Darby, we represent individuals and businesses who have been accused of making defamatory statements and have been threatened with litigation or have already been sued as a result of things they have said, written, gestured or communicated in some other way.
Proving Defamation in California
In order to successfully prove a defamation case in California, the person filing the lawsuit must prove that a statement was in fact made and that the statement was:
- Communicated to a 3rd party;
- A statement of fact;
- Injurious; and
This means that in order to be successful, the plaintiff must prove that the statement was communicated to a third party. Uttering a statement about the plaintiff exclusively to the plaintiff is not actionable.
The plaintiff must then prove that the defendant stated a fact about the defendant—you can’t be sued for expressing an opinion.
The stated fact must also be false. Truth is an absolute defense to defamation, even if the truth is harmful or embarrassing to the plaintiff.
If the statement was about a private figure, then it must be proven that the defendant made the statement negligently––basically, that you didn’t “do your homework” before making the statement. On the other hand, if the statement was about a public, then it must be proven that the statement was made with malice––a stricter standard showing that you intended to harm the plaintiff.
Next, the plaintiff will need to prove that the statement you made caused injury. This can include injury to reputation, business relationships, personal relationships or standing within their community.
Finally, the plaintiff must prove that the statement didn’t fall into a privileged category. This means that you were not under oath at the time the statement was made (link to page) or acting in an official capacity under which you were protected by law from legal exposure for defamation.
In California, defamation cases are broken down into two different categories:
- Slander—spoken defamation
- Libel—written defamation
The Law Office of Ryan T. Darby offers defense representation to individuals who have been threatened with or are involved in lawsuits related to a variety of defamation cases. We can help you defend against the allegations and potentially pursue an anti-SLAPP motion that would quickly dismiss the lawsuit and require the plaintiff to pay all your costs and attorney fees.
Contact us today for a free consultation and to learn more about how we can help you.