Defamation vs. False Light

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Sojourner2

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Defamation vs. False Light

Postby Sojourner2 » Thu Jul 05, 2018 1:38 pm

I am having difficulty understanding the standard of liability for defamation, as well as how defamation is different generally from false light.

First, for the standard of liability for defamation, as I understand it the P only needs to prove fault and falsity for matters of public concern. Does that mean that defamation of a private individual for private concerns is strict liability? If so, then what does that mean for spreading rumors? E.g., if A tells B, "Have you heard that C is sleeping with D, his secretary?" A could be liable for defamation?

Second, can anyone help me understand the difference between false light and defamation? Is the only real difference that false light involves widespread publication of offensive material, whereas defamation is "smaller" in that it is only told to one person, or a small group of persons?

Thanks for your help!

estefanchanning

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Re: Defamation vs. False Light

Postby estefanchanning » Thu Jul 05, 2018 4:39 pm

First, for the standard of liability for defamation, as I understand it the P only needs to prove fault and falsity for matters of public concern. Does that mean that defamation of a private individual for private concerns is strict liability?


Yes, so long as you otherwise prove 1) Defamatory Language 2) Of or Concerning P 3) Publication and 4) Damages to reputation (sometimes)

If so, then what does that mean for spreading rumors? E.g., if A tells B, "Have you heard that C is sleeping with D, his secretary?" A could be liable for defamation?

Yes, that's slander per se if all other elements are proven (per se because it relates to unchastity of a person)

Second, can anyone help me understand the difference between false light and defamation? Is the only real difference that false light involves widespread publication of offensive material, whereas defamation is "smaller" in that it is only told to one person, or a small group of persons?


No.

False Light (FL): Published facts place P in offensive light in public eye
Defamation: Language injured P's reputation (can be in private)

The two are very similar. Because false light (FL) involves falsity, you should concurrently plead FL with defamation if it effects reputation.

Telling everyone P is embezzling funds: Defamation and False Light; Claim you bring will effect type of recoverable damages (economic vs. dignitary)
Telling everyone P is Roman Catholic but he is in fact Jewish: False Light but NOT DEFAMATION – Misrepresentation of P’s religious belief

Nightcrawler

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Re: Defamation vs. False Light

Postby Nightcrawler » Thu Jul 05, 2018 5:01 pm

From my understanding, the elements of false light and defamation are the same apart from damages needed for defamation (but not false light), and the statement be highly offensive needed for false light (but not for defamation).

Sojourner2

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Re: Defamation vs. False Light

Postby Sojourner2 » Fri Jul 06, 2018 1:27 pm

Thanks! Very helpful.



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