Libel and slander

If someone makes a statement of fact about you that is false, you may have a cause of action against that person.  We get a lot of calls from people who are upset about libel and slander, and there are three cautions that we give to everyone.  First, the statement has to be a statement of fact — “John said that I beat my wife every night” — rather than a statement of opinion — “John said that I was mean and ugly”.  Second, a suit like this does not bring emotional satisfaction; it might bring a monetary award.  And if the person has no money, a monetary award may not be worth the effort necessary to pursue it.  We as lawyers, getting paid on a contingency fee, get paid only when a judgment is collected.  You may want to bring suit as a matter of principle, to have a judge declare that you are right and the other person is wrong, but we are not generally interested in bringing a libel and slander action just as a matter of principle.  Third, if the case doesn’t get to a trial for a year or more, how do you think you will think about this situation then?  Will things blow over and you’ll move on with life?

In most cases, our advice to people is that they should not bother with a libel and slander suit.  But if what has been said about you has cost you in economic terms — as where you are being slandered in your profession — it may be worth pursuing.  If you would like a consultation on a possible libel and slander case, call us at 434-293-8185.