A disgruntled ex-employee has been Facebook messaging & IMing my clients and telling them lies. He's chatting with them on Facebook, and they are saved as "messages." Is this libel or slander?
He is telling everyone that we bring prostitutes to the business after-hours. Obviously this is not true. We cannot prove that he is wrong, because how can you prove that? You can't just have cameras follow us around all the time to show it's not true.
I read that you have to prove that it's wrong to sue him for libel/slander.
Can he still be sued for libel/slander for telling people that, even though we can't prove that it's not true?
Can he be sued for not being able to prove that it IS true?
You already asked this once.
You can sue him for anything, but you have to prove your case to win and it's not worth it. Defamation is a very expensive area of the law, and without real damages (I doubt you have them), this isn't much of a case. I sincerely doubt your former employee is telling "everyone" these things, for instance.
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Libel is written defamation, and Slander is spoken defamation. Opinions are protected by the first amendment. If this person is couching these statements as opinions, then it is not actionable. If they are being posted as statements of fact and you can prove to the court that you have suffered economic damages as a result (you need proof, the court will not entertain hearsay, speculation or conjecture) then you can sue him for defamation. As my colleagues have pointed out, these actions are expensive to litigate, and due to first amendment protections, very hard to win.
Lying is not against the law. It is protected by the first amendment. So as I stated above, you have to show the court with evidence that you have suffered economic damages and it is a direct result of these posts. You can always have a local lawyer send him a cease and desist letter--that may get his attention. As for your concern about "proving"--that's the whole problem. Truth is a defense to defamation, so if you sue him, he will have the right to conduct discovery into your lives, depose people you know, subpoena records, etc. to show that you in fact have engaged in this behavior. It will probably not turn up anything since you say this is all false, but he has the right to conduct the discovery anyway.
If you've reported it to facebook and they are not helping, and the cease and desist letter does not get his attention, then have the attorney that did the letter advise you on how best to proceed.
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