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Can I sue for libel and defamation of character against a client?

Beverly Hills, CA |

I own a business development company based out of California. A client has posted on Rip-Off Report details about my age that are not true (stating I am 25 when I am quite a few years older), details about the agreement he signed that are not true, stating I have a 2 year criminal record (which is not true), and stating that I am a scam artist (which is definitely not true) that "steals upfront fees" (we did not).

We can prove all the above with documentation.

He has also made assertions on the Rip-Off Report site about a recent asset purchase stating that the company I sold a portion of my assets to didn't exist and that a company that we did business with was in actuality a fraudulent company we were running.

The client is in Florida, we are in CA. Do we move forward?

He also stated my full name, our office address, and telephone number along with his statements on this site. He later stated "My statement that Mr. Prime is a 25 year old scam artist is My Opinion." While opinion doesn't fall under libel, he is stating a wholly inaccurate and false picture of myself and my firm and has yet to retract his statement, even after we sent him a Cease and Desist letter. I have had 3 clients cancel their deals with us and 11 potential clients cease negotiations after seeing the Rip-Off Report.

Attorney Answers 3


  1. It is true that opinion is not actionable as defamation. However, it appears that several of the statements that he made are factual. If they are false and he knows (or should know) them to be false and they tend to injure you in your occupation, then you may have an actional claim for defamation. You may be able to sue the client in California based on whether he has "minimum contacts" with California. You should consult an attorney in this matter as there are several issues that need to be analyzed in order to determine whether to move forward with it.


  2. I would add that while you seem to frame your question as whether you individually have been wronged, it seems from the facts you've given that your legal recourse is to pursue an action for business disparagement, which is a form of defamation. In such a case, your concern is the loss of current and/or future business due to the disparaging statements the individual has made to third parties through this site. Seek the advice of a local attorney, many of whom undoubtedly offer free consultations.


  3. The client can be sued for libel in state and/or federal court in California. If you are interested in prosecuting the case contact me at:

    chambers@brimstoneandcompany.com

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