Can I sue for defamation (and tortious interference with my business) when they spread lies and incite others to harass me?

Asked almost 4 years ago - Vancouver, WA

I am being harassed by a neighboring business who is spreading lies and inciting their clients to harass me (via voice mail, email, inside my place of business and by asking them to sign a complaint against me). Essentially, they are doing this as retaliation for having a new neighbor who wants to enforce their property rights. I have had people walk in and swear at me, threaten lawsuits against me, tell me that they would never do business with me and yell at me. I have tried to ignore it, but I can see that they are damaging my reputation and that of my business and I need this to stop. I have done nothing to warrant this hateful behavior and I am hoping to find an attorney who can help.

Attorney answers (1)

  1. Robert Craig Van Siclen

    Contributor Level 3

    Answered . From what you describe, you have enforceable causes of action for libel (disseminating disparaging and untrue written comments about you and/or your business), slander (same as libel only done verbally and not in writing) and interference with business relationships (occurring through the libelous and slanderous statements about you that are intended to result in disparaging your business activities in your business area). There may be others depending upon a more thorough discussion of just what the facts of your case are. You should be entitled to commence a lawsuit for these causes of action in the Clark County Superior Court, or the Clark County District Court, depending upon the extent and amount of damages that this wrongful conduct has caused you. The lawsuit should appropriately plead the facts of the wrongfully uttered and untrue statements, how these comments have damaged you and your business activities, establish a proximate cause between the wrongful conduct and your damages and request relief in damages that the court should ascertain at time of trial. You will more than likely need assistance from a local attorney and depending upon the flagrancy of the improperly uttered and published comments, the extensiveness of the damages that the libel/slander has caused both you and your business to suffer, and the likelihood of collecting upon any judgment that may result from your lawsuit, the lawyer may agree to take your case on a contingent fee basis of approximately one-third of all moneys collected in the lawsuit, plus your payment of all out-of-pocket costs and expenses that your attorney incurs in representing you. You may also be entitled to obtain an injunction from the court which orders the parties who are subject to the injunction to cease and desist from all further similar conduct. In certain circumstances, the court may also grant a temporary injunction to stop the activity during the time the lawsuit is pending in court before it come be actually tried.

    The main defense to these types of actions is "truth." That is, truth of the allegations being made about you almost always constitutes a full and complete defense to your lawsuit alleging libel and slander. Your attorney will discuss these possible defenses with you when you meet with him/her.

    I think that you will be surprised at the number of qualified attorneys in Vancouver who may be interested in discussing this case with you. Before going to meet with the attorney, however, you might want to check to see if s/he will give you an initial free consultation to see whether or not the attorney agrees that you have a viable case. Don't wait to consult with an attorney because there are statutes of limitation which limit the period of time within which you can file your lawsuit in court. Your attorney will discuss the statute of limitations with you when you initally meet with him/her.

    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 legal consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not constitute an attorney-client relationship.

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