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Defenses to Defamation by Mind Map: Defenses to Defamation
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Defenses to Defamation

DEFENSES TO DEFAMATION Defamation actions trigger some unique defenses not seen (or rarely seen) in other causes of action.

Not Defamatory

THE STATEMENT IS NOT DEFAMATORY If a statement is not defamatory, the first element of defamation does not exist, and a lawsuit for defamation cannot lie. Insulting, provocative, or annoying statements are not defamatory.

Defamed is Deceased

THE DEFAMED PERSON IS DECEASED A person who has died cannot usually be defamed, but there are exceptions to this rule.

Privilege or Immunity

PRIVILEGES Certain individuals are protected under the law from defamation actions. This is commonly called a privilege or immunity. This privilege can be raised as a defense and, if proved, will result in the case being dismissed. Whether a statement is privileged depends on several things. First, the conditions under which the statement was made may have been privileged. An example of a statement like this would be a client’s statement to his or her attorney or clergy. Members of Congress and state legislators are protected by a privilege against defamation for any comment made while the legislature is in session. Some privileges are absolute. Any defamatory statement made under specified circumstances can never be the basis of a defamation action. Again, an example is a communication between an attorney and client.   Other privileges are qualified. This kind of privilege protects the Defendant from a defamation action as long as the Defendant does not use the privilege as a ruse, or abuse the privilege. Employers, for example, have qualified immunity to make certain types of statements. If the employer is legally obligated to make a statement, such as in an accident report, an action in defamation will not be permitted.

Statement is True

THE STATEMENT IS TRUE If the statement made by the Defendant about the Plaintiff is true, the Defendant has a complete defense and the case should be dismissed. If the statement is true, it will not matter if the Defendant acted with ill will, malice, or hatred in making the statement. Truth is an absolute defense to a defamation action. In many jurisdictions, the statement must be true at the time it was made, not one that becomes true later on.

"Good Faith" Statutes

“GOOD FAITH” STATUTES Some jurisdictions have “good faith” statutes that have been specifically passed to insulate the press from defamation suits for reporting on various issues of public concern. If the press reports something incorrectly, some jurisdictions require that a retraction be printed before the good faith statute will protect the media from a defamation action.

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