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DEFAMATION -- LIBEL AND SLANDER [Florida Law - FReepers Heed]
Florida Bar Association ^

Posted on 10/24/2003 10:14:40 AM PDT by Chancellor Palpatine

Edited on 10/24/2003 12:02:17 PM PDT by Lead Moderator. [history]

DEFAMATION -- LIBEL AND SLANDER

The First Amendment to the Constitution provides a broad right of freedom of speech. However, if a false statement has been made about you, you may have wondered if you could sue for defamation.

Generally, defamation consists of: (1) a false statement of fact about another; (2) an unprivileged publication of that statement to a third party; (3) some degree of fault, depending on the type of case; and (4) some harm or damage. Libel is defamation by the printed word and slander is defamation by the spoken word.

If the statement is made about a public official - for example, a police officer, mayor, school superintendent - or a public figure - that is a generally prominent person or a person who is actively involved in a public controversy, then it must be proven that the statement was made with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard for whether the statement was true or false. In other words, the fact that the statement was false is not enough to recover for defamation. On the other hand, if the statement was made about a private person, then it must be proven that the false statement was made without reasonable care as to whether the statement was true or false.

There are a number of defenses available in a defamation action. Of course, if a statement is true, there can be no action for defamation. Truth is a complete defense. Additionally, if the statement is an expression of an opinion as opposed to a statement of fact, there can be no action for defamation. We do not impose liability in this country for expressions of opinion. However, whether a statement will be deemed to be an expression of opinion as opposed to a statement of fact is not always an easy question to answer. For example, the mere fact that a statement is found in an editorial is not enough to qualify for the opinion privilege if the particular statement contained in the editorial is factual in nature.

There is also a privilege known as neutral reporting. For example, if a newspaper reports on newsworthy statements made about someone, the newspaper is generally protected if it makes a disinterested report of those statements. In some cases, the fact that the statements were made is newsworthy and the newspaper will not be held responsible for the truth of what is actually said.

There are other privileges as well. For example, where a person, such as a former employer, has a duty to make reports to other people and makes a report in good faith without any malicious intent, that report will be protected even though it may not be totally accurate.

Another example of a privilege is a report on a judicial proceeding. News organizations and others reporting on activities that take place in a courtroom are protected from defamation actions if they have accurately reported what took place.

If you think you have been defamed by a newspaper, magazine, radio or television station, you must make a demand for retraction before a lawsuit can be filed. If the newspaper, magazine, radio or television station publishes a retraction, you can still file suit, but your damages may be limited. Unless the media defendant acted with malice, bad faith or reckless disregard for the truth or falsity of the story, you can only recover your actual damages. No punitive damages can be assessed in the absence of these elements.

An action for libel or slander must be brought within two years of the time the statements were made. If you wait beyond this two year period, any lawsuit will be barred.

Libel and slander cases are often very complicated. Before you decide to take any action in a libel or slander case, you should consult with an attorney. An attorney can help you decide whether you have a case and advise you regarding the time and expense involved in bringing this type of action.

(updated 12/01)


TOPICS: Heated Discussion
KEYWORDS: catholiclist; michaeldobbs
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Take heed folks - hiding behind screennames will not defeat a Federal subpoena.
1 posted on 10/24/2003 10:14:41 AM PDT by Chancellor Palpatine
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To: Catspaw; Greybird; onyx; ambrose; PhiKapMom; TheAngryClam
ping!
2 posted on 10/24/2003 10:15:24 AM PDT by Chancellor Palpatine
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To: Chancellor Palpatine
saving for later after the cosmic events...
3 posted on 10/24/2003 10:17:42 AM PDT by getmeouttaPalmBeachCounty_FL (Only those with backbones can stand up for us.)
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To: Chancellor Palpatine
Superb and much needed post. Take heed people and FR.
4 posted on 10/24/2003 10:19:45 AM PDT by onyx
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To: Catspaw; Greybird; onyx; ambrose; PhiKapMom; TheAngryClam
Here is an opinion made in employment matters, but somewhat applicable here.To defeat a qualified privilege, a plaintiff must show malice in fact or express malice. Express malice in Florida is ill will, hostility, or evil intent to defame. Disseminating defamatory information to too wide of an audience also can defeat a qualified privilege. So, in a recent Florida case, a jury was called upon to decide whether an employer's qualified privilege continued to exist where the employer made a false statement to over 20 employees who had no “need to know.”
5 posted on 10/24/2003 10:19:55 AM PDT by Chancellor Palpatine
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To: Pan_Yans Wife
ping
6 posted on 10/24/2003 10:22:05 AM PDT by Pan_Yans Wife (You may forget the one with whom you have laughed, but never the one with whom you have wept.)
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To: Chancellor Palpatine; Jim Robinson
hiding behind screennames will not defeat a Federal subpoena

I think Jim Robinson has stated in the past that even if under subpoena he would NEVER reveal identifying confidential information about individual FReepers.

And posting legal threats like this should be carefully considered by Jim Robinson as an open threat against Free republic itself and an attempt to stifle pro-life views contrary to your own sick views.

And if you are a lawyer, that should weigh even more against you in Jim Robinson's evaluation of these attempts to censor views with which you disagree.

But I feel certain you're taking names anyhow.

You working for the ACLU or Attny Felos himself?

7 posted on 10/24/2003 10:22:46 AM PDT by ckca
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To: Chancellor Palpatine
Thanks for posting this -- sure hope some Freepers can get it through their head that their freedom of speech doesn't mean you can slander someone else and not have consequences. Some people need to stop and think before they post ludicrous statements that I have seen recently!

Everyone should read and heed your thread -- Moderators should pull the posts of people who don't heed your warning and continue to post slanderous statements!
8 posted on 10/24/2003 10:23:17 AM PDT by PhiKapMom (AOII Mom -- Don't forget to Visit/donate at http://www.georgewbush.com)
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To: Chancellor Palpatine
Got your jackboots on today Palpatine?
9 posted on 10/24/2003 10:24:44 AM PDT by jwalsh07
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To: ckca
Reality bites. I figure that if people are going to make vitriolic statements, they need to be aware of consequences. As for the material itself, take that up with the Florida bar - they wrote the first piece.
10 posted on 10/24/2003 10:25:12 AM PDT by Chancellor Palpatine
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To: Chancellor Palpatine
In my opinion...Michael Schiavo is a lying, murderous, money-grubbing, hypocritical, evil-through-and-through bag of festering pus. If he or his evil lawyer want to take me on, let 'em try. But fair warning...the only ones they usually try to take out are the weak and sick. I'm 6'3", 230 pounds, healthy, and I hit back. Hard.
11 posted on 10/24/2003 10:25:22 AM PDT by TheBigB (Remember ladies...spandex is a privilege, not a right.)
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To: ckca
Your statement is ludicrous in itself -- you cannot hide behind a screen name for long. From what I read of your comments you expect Jim to have to go to jail for refusing to divulge names so that some Freepers can continue to make libelous statements? If that what you are saying?

12 posted on 10/24/2003 10:25:22 AM PDT by PhiKapMom (AOII Mom -- Don't forget to Visit/donate at http://www.georgewbush.com)
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To: jwalsh07
All shined up and ready to kick.
13 posted on 10/24/2003 10:25:38 AM PDT by Chancellor Palpatine
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To: MarMema
please ping those opposed to euthanasia so that they may see and respond to this blatant and sinister attempt to stifle activism and free speech on Terri's behalf, by an obvious supporter of euthanasia who openly despises Terri's defenders here.
14 posted on 10/24/2003 10:26:48 AM PDT by ckca
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To: Chancellor Palpatine
Figures.
15 posted on 10/24/2003 10:27:20 AM PDT by jwalsh07
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To: PhiKapMom
Jim Robinson has stated in the past that even if under subpoena he would NEVER reveal identifying confidential information about individual FReepers.
16 posted on 10/24/2003 10:27:45 AM PDT by ckca
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To: TheBigB
I'm sure your size would impress any the mailman who serves garns on your bank account and wages, as well as the person who will carry the judgment lien to file against your home down at your local deed room.

Assuming, of course, that some action flows.

17 posted on 10/24/2003 10:28:31 AM PDT by Chancellor Palpatine
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To: PhiKapMom
I use my own name, always have, always will. Palpatine is making an obvious effort to cool speech here at FR since the death cultists have been knocked on their heels.
18 posted on 10/24/2003 10:28:55 AM PDT by jwalsh07
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To: Chancellor Palpatine
Before you rant anymore about conservatives defamation, look what is about to be broadcast to 35 million households by CBS in a mini-series.

Reprinted from NewsMax.com
Friday, Oct. 24, 2003 11:13 a.m. EDT

Michael Reagan: CBS Portrays President as Foul-mouthed Buffoon

The upcoming CBS miniseries on President Ronald Reagan portrays him as a foul-mouthed buffoon who repeatedly used profanity - behavior he never exhibited in real life, his son Michael said Thursday.

"It's horrendous, it's absolutely horrendous," Michael Reagan complained after viewing eight minutes' worth of excerpts of the film, which stars James Brolin, husband of Reagan-hater Barbra Streisand, as the 40th president.

"They paint my father as a buffoon," the former first son-turned radio host told fellow talker Sean Hannity. "They also have my dad taking God's name in vain in an angry, angry way. ... They have him calling another person in anger an S.O.B."

"I've never seen my Dad that angry and I've never heard him use the 'G-D' word in my life," Reagan complained.

"They dislike my father, and you can see that," he said. "They actually infer that Alzheimer's was setting in at the time the whole thing was going on with Ollie North and Iran-Contra - which is absurd."

The CBS film is even harder on former first lady Nancy Reagan, Michael Reagan revealed.

"All the bad things you've heard about Nancy - I mean, this show just hates her - absolutely hates her," he told Hannity.

Reagan called CBS's portrayal of Mrs. Reagan "obscene."

The former first son said he talked to Mrs. Reagan about the excerpts Wednesday night, saying, "Of course she's upset about it - we're all upset about it."

"The eight minutes' worth of clips that I saw [showed] Nancy as the head of the government and Dad was just the buffoon going along for the ride, with everybody laughing at him," Reagan said. "It is so sad."

Reagan said he sent a copy of the clips he viewed to the former first lady.

Editor's note:
Have an Opinion About This? Click Here to Send an URGENT PriorityGram Today or go to www.cbs.com and click on "feedback” at the bottom of the page.

Honor Ronald Reagan – Get the USS Ronald Reagan Cap – Click Here Now

Read more on this subject in related Hot Topics:
Media Bias


19 posted on 10/24/2003 10:29:46 AM PDT by Paul Ross (Don't get mad. Get madder!)
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To: Chancellor Palpatine
I can call anybody I choose a murderer, and they can do the same.

For it to be libelous, I would have to know it to be false.

20 posted on 10/24/2003 10:33:38 AM PDT by dead (I've got my eye out for Mullah Omar.)
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To: Paul Ross
Won't there be a disclaimer slapped on the movie?
21 posted on 10/24/2003 10:34:59 AM PDT by Pan_Yans Wife (You may forget the one with whom you have laughed, but never the one with whom you have wept.)
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To: jwalsh07; Jim Robinson
Palpatine is making an obvious effort to cool speech here at FR since the death cultists have been knocked on their heels.

And since many FReepers know Palpatine is a lawyer hiding behind that screen name, this threat takes on much larger proportions, and should be countered.

This kind of legal terrorism should not be tolerated. Palpitine is extracting his revenge for the will of the people trumping judicial and lawyerly activism.

This is one of the most vile attempts at censorship I've ever witnessed here.

22 posted on 10/24/2003 10:35:46 AM PDT by ckca
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To: ckca
So that gives you guys free reign to post whatever you want, when you want rather you have the facts or not because you can stand behind Jim saying he would never divulge private information?

What a bunch of misguided people there are on here if they feel they can say anything they want and stand behind Jim's statement so he takes the fall not you. BTW, all we have is your say on what Jim said and I have no doubt under most circumstances he would protect the identity of Freepers! That said, there are circumstances where I can see he would cooperate with law enforcement!

Freepers better watch what they post about the President or anyone under USSS protection because Jim or no one else is ever going to stand by and let those statements stand and protect the people that said them!

Don't you think that posting outrageous statements while hiding behind a screen name is childish and not worthy of this site or Jim's support of Freepers. Why would anyone want to put Jim in jeopardy by posting their suppositions as facts and letting their feelings get in the way of actual facts when they don't even know the people involved?



23 posted on 10/24/2003 10:38:06 AM PDT by PhiKapMom (AOII Mom -- Don't forget to Visit/donate at http://www.georgewbush.com)
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To: ckca; Chancellor Palpatine
You working for the ACLU or Attny Felos himself?


7 posted on 10/24/2003 10:22 AM PDT by ckca





That's right, insult the messenger and ignore the message.
You're a real beaut!

OBVIOUSLY, Chancellor Palpatine posted this to "protect" this forum (wherein he is one of the most valued and astute members) by warning all of us of the consequences of ad hominem and vicious slander.
24 posted on 10/24/2003 10:39:20 AM PDT by onyx
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To: dead
Wrongo. Reckless disregard as to the truth or falsity gets you there too.
25 posted on 10/24/2003 10:40:04 AM PDT by Chancellor Palpatine
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To: TheBigB
I'm 6'3", 230 pounds, healthy, and I hit back. Hard.

A lawsuit is much more frightening than a fist fight and can lead to much more long-term damage.

26 posted on 10/24/2003 10:40:23 AM PDT by Modernman ("I'm just a simple man, trying to make my way in the universe."- Jango Fett)
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To: dead
That is incorrect. It is defamation per se to call someone a murderer, whether you know it is false or not.
27 posted on 10/24/2003 10:41:10 AM PDT by John Beresford Tipton
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To: Chancellor Palpatine
Read later.
28 posted on 10/24/2003 10:41:57 AM PDT by OXENinFLA
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To: Chancellor Palpatine
C'mon, Chancellor...this is a pantload and you know it. If Schiavo wants to sue anyone, he'd better get busy. Cause I guarantee there are hundreds of thousands of sites and posters throught the net saying the same things. I think he's a lying, murderous bastard. There, I said it again. No action will be taken against me nor FR and everyone knows it. If Jom wishes to pull my statements, he can.
29 posted on 10/24/2003 10:42:02 AM PDT by TheBigB (Remember ladies...spandex is a privilege, not a right.)
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To: ckca
Jim Robinson has stated in the past that even if under subpoena he would NEVER reveal identifying confidential information about individual FReepers.

How about under a court order? That's quite different from a subpoena.

I'd hope that the individual FReepers involved in such a situation would have the intengrity to break their anonymity, rather than rely on Jim's going to jail to protect them.

30 posted on 10/24/2003 10:42:29 AM PDT by Modernman ("I'm just a simple man, trying to make my way in the universe."- Jango Fett)
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To: onyx
OBVIOUSLY, Chancellor Palpatine posted this to "protect" this forum (wherein he is one of the most valued and astute members) by warning all of us of the consequences of ad hominem and vicious slander.

Libel.

Slander is spoken word, libel is written word.

31 posted on 10/24/2003 10:42:33 AM PDT by Catspaw
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To: Catspaw
Thanks. I am NOT a lawyer.
32 posted on 10/24/2003 10:43:23 AM PDT by onyx
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To: PhiKapMom
So that gives you guys free reign to post whatever you want

Feel free to post here any libel or slander I have ever posted re Michael Schiavo. Regardless, its not libel to call a man a murderer and and an adulterer who...is a (attempted) murderer and adutlerer.

You fail to see that this is not about libel or slander.

This is about a FReeper who is a lawyer and using the law and Jim Robinson's website to attempt to silence those who have by their activism defeated his agenda.

He despises them and is attempting to extract revenge on them, which is reprehensible, far moreso than anything any FReeper has said about Terri's husband.

Open you eyes.

33 posted on 10/24/2003 10:44:13 AM PDT by ckca
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To: onyx
Thanks. I am NOT a lawyer.

Blame it on one semester of media law I took waaaay back when.

34 posted on 10/24/2003 10:44:29 AM PDT by Catspaw
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BTTT
35 posted on 10/24/2003 10:44:45 AM PDT by StriperSniper (All this, of course, is simply pious fudge. - H. L. Mencken)
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To: Chancellor Palpatine
Take heed folks - hiding behind screennames will not defeat a Federal subpoena.

No way in hell Shiavo would sue - it would open him up to discovery.

36 posted on 10/24/2003 10:45:07 AM PDT by dirtboy (Now in theaters - Howard Dean as Buzz Lightweight - taking the Dems to Oblivion and Beyond in 2004!)
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To: Catspaw
I wish you had the means to edit my error! :)
37 posted on 10/24/2003 10:46:11 AM PDT by onyx
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To: Chancellor Palpatine
Wrongo. Reckless disregard as to the truth or falsity gets you there too.

Well hell, if that is the case you should have been wherever "there" is a long tome ago.

38 posted on 10/24/2003 10:46:23 AM PDT by jwalsh07
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To: NYer; MarMema
Take a gander at this.
39 posted on 10/24/2003 10:46:33 AM PDT by B Knotts
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To: Chancellor Palpatine
Wrongo. Reckless disregard as to the truth or falsity gets you there too.

There is enough evidence in print (true or false) to lead one to speculate reasonably in the case of Michael Shiavo. It is not the job of any free citizen to independently check out every story they read in print.

You can no more be sued for calling Schiavo a murderer than you can be sued for calling Clinton a rapist.

40 posted on 10/24/2003 10:46:51 AM PDT by dead (I've got my eye out for Mullah Omar.)
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To: John Beresford Tipton
He's an attempted murderer until she dies. Then he's a murderer.

41 posted on 10/24/2003 10:47:03 AM PDT by Bikers4Bush
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To: TheBigB
If he or his evil lawyer want to take me on, let 'em try. But fair warning...the only ones they usually try to take out are the weak and sick. I'm 6'3", 230 pounds, healthy, and I hit back. Hard. - TheBigB

If you believe you need legal advice, call your attorney. If you do not have an attorney, call The Florida Bar Lawyer Referral Service at 1-800-342-8011, or the local lawyer referral service or legal aid office listed in the yellow pages of your telephone book.

42 posted on 10/24/2003 10:47:13 AM PDT by RGSpincich
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To: ckca
If people didn't have to be so careful with their speech, then why is it that journalists in print and on television always used the words "alleged" when talking about a victim or a suspect? Wouldn't the same rules apply to everyone, when discussing a case like Schiavo?
43 posted on 10/24/2003 10:47:17 AM PDT by Pan_Yans Wife (You may forget the one with whom you have laughed, but never the one with whom you have wept.)
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To: dead
And he's definately a rapist.
44 posted on 10/24/2003 10:47:25 AM PDT by Bikers4Bush
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To: jwalsh07
Well hell, if that is the case you should have been wherever "there" is a long tome ago.

Ooh, that's gonna leave a mark...

45 posted on 10/24/2003 10:47:38 AM PDT by dirtboy (Now in theaters - Howard Dean as Buzz Lightweight - taking the Dems to Oblivion and Beyond in 2004!)
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To: onyx
OBVIOUSLY, Chancellor Palpatine posted this to "protect" this forum

Wrong. Palpatine despises those conservative activists who helped overturn the judicial fiat of one of his fellow lawyers/judges. He is a euthanasia proponent who has witnessed his agenda taking a major bitch slapping from the citizens of this country.

This is a personal vendetta by Palpatine against fellow FReepers with whom he disagrees and for whom he holds nothing but contempt.

46 posted on 10/24/2003 10:47:49 AM PDT by ckca
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To: dead
You can no more be sued for calling Schiavo a murderer than you can be sued for calling Clinton a rapist.

Part of it would depend upon whether Shiavo can be deemed to have become a public figure yet by the court.

47 posted on 10/24/2003 10:48:12 AM PDT by dirtboy (Now in theaters - Howard Dean as Buzz Lightweight - taking the Dems to Oblivion and Beyond in 2004!)
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To: ckca
Why would you think this is only about Michael Schiavo? Plenty of cases have been discussed here, some much more heated than the Schiavo case (I'm thinking Elian)....Elizabeth Smart, the Westerfields, the Christines, Kobe, Scott Peterson, with many more to come. And I do remember a couple freepers who got visits from the USSS during the very heated impeachment era. And boy, don't even get started on the Bush-Gore election & recount.

What was posted was a general overview of defamation law.

48 posted on 10/24/2003 10:48:17 AM PDT by Catspaw
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Comment #49 Removed by Moderator

To: Paul Ross
And that does what, exactly?

First, if the Reagans wished to sue, they likely could, although as "public figures" it's much harder for them to sustain a suit. And no, Schiavo does not count as a public figure simply because you've latched on to his cause.

Second, "they're doing it, so can I" didn't work on the playground, so what makes you think it will work in grown-up land?
50 posted on 10/24/2003 10:48:35 AM PDT by TheAngryClam (Don't blame me, I voted for McClintock.)
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