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Defamation

Defamation involves the making of an untrue statement which causes injury to a person’s reputation. At The Law Offices of Daniel A. Singer PLLC, our New York defamation lawyers represent individuals that have been defamed as well as those that have been accused of having defamed others. We provide counseling with respect to addressing defamation claims both with and without court intervention and provide advice with respect to the possible parameters for settling such disputes under New York law.

Libel and Slander

Libel is the written form of defamation by which one disparages another’s reputation through written statements. Slander, in contrast, is the oral form of defamation by which one disparages another’s reputation by spoken statements. To set forth a claim for defamation under New York law, one must allege that the disparaging statement (whether oral or written) is in fact false; that, at the very least, the person making the statement was negligent in doing so; and that the disparaging statement actually caused damage. In most situations, damages must be specified. Some statements- ones that implicitly tend injure one’s personal or professional reputation- are considered defamatory per se. Statements which are defamatory per se include those which impute chastity of sexual misconduct; those which expose a person to ridicule or contempt; those which call into question financial responsibility or reliability; and those which affect business, office, trade, or profession. With respect to statements which are defamatory per se the damages to one’s reputation is presumed and, as such, an allegation of special damages is not necessary.

A claim for defamation must be stated with particularity. If not, it might be dismissed by a New York Court. Critically, the specific words which constitute the defamatory statement must be included in the complaint.

Certain statements which may otherwise be defamatory are protected and such protection may serve as a defense to a defamation claim. Some statements, such as those made in the context of a judicial proceeding, are provided with absolute immunity and cannot be subject to a claim for defamation. Other statements, such as those which are intended to protect the public, are subject to qualified immunity with such immunity being discarded if the subject statement is made with malice.

If a statement is true, this serves as an absolute bar to a claim for defamation. Statements which are partially true may still be actionable though the fact that a statement is partially true might mitigate the amount of damages which a court will award. Similarly, the subsequent retraction of a defamatory statement does not serve as a complete defense to a defamation action though it may serve to limit the amount of damages awarded.

Internet Defamation

The posting of defamatory materials on the Internet presents unique challenges and concerns due to the ease by which material can be placed online; the permanency of such postings; and the fact that many of these postings are made anonymously. The situation is further complicated by the fact that, in most instances, the owners of websites cannot be held liable for materials which others post on their sites. If you are a victim of Internet defamation, we can counsel you as to how to best address the matter so as to maximize the possibility of removing the libelous content and obtaining monetary damages under New York law.

Similarly, if you are accused of engaging in Internet defamation, our New York defamation lawyers can counsel you with respect to possible defenses to such claims as well as assist in you in settling such claims so as to limit your financial exposure.

Please contact us today for a free telephone consultation.

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