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CA has a one year statute of limitations for defamation. If the defamation has continued for two years, can you file suit, now?

Sherman Oaks, CA |

Seeking an attorney, preferably in LA County, experienced in pursuing cases of defamation (through libel and slander), harassment, and infliction of emotional and physical distress. The case is against an insured corporation's Board of Directors and may also include discrimination. Thank you.

Attorney Answers 1

  1. Whether you still have a viable defamation claim depends on the nature of the 2 year defamation. California uses the "single publication rule," so the statute of limitations period begins to run when a defamatory statement is 1st published. So if a magazine is distributed to many news stands, that's considered only 1 publication, and the statute begins when the magazine was initially made available, not when an extra copy of it left over on the news stand is sold 1 month later.

    But the single publication rule is not absolute. If the purported defamatory content is re-published to a substantially different audience or is altered in a substantial way, a new statute of limitations period may begin to run. For example, if the material in a magazine is incorporated into a book, a new statute of limitations period will likely begin when the book is published.

    This rule also applies to Internet publication and generally, the statute of limitation period begins when a defamatory statement is first made available online. Courts will likely find re-publication has started a new statute of limitations period only when online material is altered in a significant way.

    Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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