Can I sue, and what is the likelihood of me winning a WRITTEN defamation, invasion of privacy, harassment case in small claims

Asked over 2 years ago - Goshen, IN

I was just granted a temp restraining order against a family member for Harassing, bullying, threatening, invasion of privacy and saying lies about me on a chat site, wondering if I can sue this person for written defamation, and using my family & friends chat site to do it with, and also invasion of privacy for posting personal court documents from a case regarding the family member & myself on the chat sites for all my friends and family to see as well?? The limit in Indiana is $6000

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Jeffrey Allan Flores

    Contributor Level 10

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    Answered . We frequently get defamation questions for situations similar to this. The good news, you have a case. Not for just defamation. Under the heading of invasion of privacy, Indiana recognizes “public disclosure of private facts.” It requires proof of the following essential elements: (1) private information was publicly divulged; (2) to persons who had no legitimate interest in the information; (3) in a manner that was coercive and oppressive; and (4) such information would be highly offensive and objectionable to a reasonable person of ordinary sensibilities

    The bad news, pursuing an individual for damages is often-times throwing away money. You need to determine whether they are judgment proof. Likely, if they are the type of individual that does this kind of thing, they have not amounted to much on the economic front. Thus, they have nothing to lose.

    I will also point out that the documents that you refer to may be considered public, as many court records are. There is no liability for public disclosure of private facts when a defendant merely gives further publicity to information that is already public. Thus, it would only be the lies that are actionable.

    If it were me, I would not pay a lawyer to pursue this. I would file in small claims. In proving your case, you may want to bring in any medical documentation you have to establish the emotional anguish, e.g., counseling, anti-depressant, sleeping-pills. This type of evidence helps establish the damages you have suffered. You may also prove lost wages, and expenses related to the restraining order.

    We live in an era where idiots have access to tools for fools. Social media is great, but in the hands of this individual, it is a wrecking ball. I encourage you to try and send a message by getting a judgment against him/her, it just unfortunately will never be enough to satisfy anything more than principle.

    Lastly, if there are any more transgressions, you can now go to the Prosecutor for a criminal action, since you have a restraining order, or file a contempt action seeking jail time.

    Best of Luck, Jeff

  2. Nathaniel O Hubley

    Contributor Level 12

    Answered . Your likelihood of winning your depends on all of the facts. Even then, it is always tough to give you a calculation on your chances of winning your case. The first thing I would recommend is talk with an attorney to see if you even have a case. You would have to meet all of the necessary elements to be successful. The second thing I would recommend is that you not file your claim in small claims court. I do not believe the small claims court would have subject matter jurisdiction over your type of case. As you indicated, a claim of recovery in small claims court is capped at $6,000, another reason why you wouldn't want to bring your case in small claims. Obviously, sitting down with an attorney could address these issues. Best of luck.

  3. Robert Daniel Kelly

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . Your statement appears to comprise a legitimate cause of action. Of course, nothing is certain, but if you have suffered damages due to false, derogatory statements made about you to third parties, then you can sue.

    [In accordance with the Avvo community guidelines, this communication does not constitute "legal advice", nor does... more

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