Anyone know the legal definition of slander

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by SomewhereOutThere, Apr 11, 2018.

  1. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    And under what condition it is actionable?

  2. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

    I bet you Lil can answer you!
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    But she may not want to answer. Just wondering if anyone knows. Had a discussion with a friend about this yesterday and neither of us knew. So I am trying to find out. Back story:

    We were talking about my guilty pleasure Judge Judy and how litigants were always crying,"Slander" and often it is about FB posts and some of the stuff sounds pretty, well, awful. Lots of name calling and allegations. But it is always shot down. So if those posts, with identifiable names and all, are not slander....what is???
  4. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    SWOT, I checked NOLO and here's a link that might help you. NOLO is a legal resource. Scroll around the site, you may find more info.

    Defamation, Slander and Libel
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Thank you. It still sounds sketchy but maybe it's just a sketchy law....hmmmm. Now I am curious ;)
  6. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    All I remember from my Business Law courses is that slander is spoken, but I don't know what would be considered slander.
  7. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    Defamation is not really my field, but slander is spoken, libel is written and both slander and libel are defamation. Basically, it's an untrue statement that damages someone's reputation. For instance, if I say my neighbor is stealing my cable and they are not, that's slander. Not only is it slander but stating someone has committed a crime (like stealing, as opposed to a non-crime, like adultery) is slander per se. Meaning it's pretty much automatically a winnable case. But really, the amount of money for damages in most slander cases is negligible. Unless a person got arrested and had to spend money as a result, or got fired from a job or something, there's not a lot of reason to sue other than to prove a point, unless there's a lot of punitive damages.

    The first rule of tort law is: Don't sue poor people; they can't pay up. :p

    Now, if I spread it around that John Smith is having an affair, and he's not, and his wife divorces him because she believes he is, then I've probably got a lawsuit coming. Likewise if I accuse them of having a disease and they have to prove to their partner they don't be having all these medical tests, they should probably sue. If I say that about a Priest and his parishioners all refuse to attend his church anymore, I could be sued for that.

    It's NOT slander if it's true. It's also NOT slander if it's an opinion. If I say, "John Smith beat his child so bad he should go to jail for it" that might be actionable. If I say, "John Smith is a bad parent and his discipline is too harsh" that's really not. That's simply my opinion, whereas the first statement is an accusation of child abuse. If I say, "Sally Jones has Borderline (BPD)" and I'm a person who should really know, like a psychologist - that's more likely a statement of fact that if I'm just a friend of Sally's and I'm giving my opinion more than likely.

    Calling someone names, generally, not slander. If I say Sally is a w_ore, for instance, not really actionable. Does anyone really think she sells herself for money? Unless they are holding themselves out as pure as the driven snow, it's probably just an opinion. If no one believes it, not defamation. If I say, "Sally Jones is a lizard person from the planet Zebulon" probably not defamation. (If I know that Sally's boss is a whack-a-doodle and I convince her boss that Sally is a lizard person out for world domination and her boss fires her or tries to kill her with lizard poison, then it's likely slander after all.)

    Also, if you hold yourself out as a public figure, like president or an actor or something, much harder to prove because you EXPECT to be talked about. That's why more actors don't sue the National Enquirer, but some do...and the win. It has to be pretty bad if you're a public figure.

    It's a sticky little area of the law. In my 6 years, I did one defamation suit, but left the firm before it was over. We were suing the Better Business Bureau, who did a robo-call thing that answered when anyone called about this one business (our client) and basically accused them of selling real estate without a license, which is a crime in our state. They also said other bad things about our client's methods and business practices, but it was the crime that was alleged that gave us the real big guns.

    Also, it's not libel or slander if the person it's about does the sharing of it. For instance, if I write a post on here saying something slanderous (libelous) about my brother but I don't identify myself or my brother, and he finds it and shares it with the world after having outed himself as being the person it was about, that's his doing. If I write horrible things about him in a text to him, and he then publishes a screen shot on Facebook, he can't complain that what I wrote was false and damaging because there was no damage until he shared it.
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2018
  8. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Thanks Lil! I get it now ;)
  9. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Swot. I want to add a couple things about this. I am not an attorney, so cannot speak as one.

    If somebody calls me a hysteric, (they have), the fact that my therapist diagnoses me as a malingerer is neither here nor there to disprove calling me a hysteric. Because there are 10 million other therapists who could diagnose me as a hysteric. We know this from watching TV where paid for hire psychiatrists seem to testify to whatever. Which brings me to my point.

    Anybody can say or do anything (except yell fire, or meet the criteria lil lays out.)

    I kept thinking about a situation I was involved in in a work situation. I decided to work late every night to start a college.

    Everybody knew I did it. That it was my idea and my work. Hundreds of people knew. I worked near double shifts for months. And I did it. The first semester there were 16 students. They had books, proctored exams. Study halls. They got college credit. It was a great success. I received no benefit other than the joy of it.

    I moved to another job in another city and asked a colleague for a letter of reference. It was a beautiful letter. Except for one line. He claimed that he started the college and I assisted him. During the whole time he had leukemia and was barely doing his own job.

    But the thing is, even writing that last part, defending myself that he could not have done it, is already buying in.

    You see. I have seen in my life that people can do and say anything whatsoever they choose. And there is not a thing I can do. I learned this first as a child. Abuse of power.

    I believe this is why I buy in. Because part of me still is disempowered. I give up. Believing on some level that this reality that another person presents will always win. And I will lose.

    I believe this is where I need to put my energy, to not go there, in situations where others seek to define me in self serving ways, or otherwise betray me.

    Shocked. I am shocked. That people can be treacherous. Liars. Betrayers. Pretenders. users.

    Over and over again I throw myself under the bus to empower others.

    Why go there? Who cares? Your sister is a damaged and suffering person. So is this work colleague. So is my sister. They have nothing to do with us anymore.

    President Obama is my role model. With him and Michelle we can go high.
  10. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Copa, thank you for this very thoughtful and honest post.

    You are right. 100 per cent. I think I was just triggered by my father's death. I took his death hard. And it brought up stale memories and reminded me of how my sister treated me and how I allowed it.

    If my sister were a stranger I wouldn't care if she lied about me. I really have to accept her as she is and move on and I am now empowered to do just that.

    I really, really, REALLY appreciate your kindness. We both need to remember that we are good people and that nobody elses opinion changes that.

    Thank you again. Very very much.
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2018
  11. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Thank you swot. But wasn't that coworker a jerk! I was floored.
  12. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member


    Unbelievable, really!