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Do we have a case for defamation of character and libel?

Kirkland, WA |

Our company has been accused in writing of willful misrepresentation of facts in financial reports with the intent to deceive; one of the principals was accused in the same document of having questionable ethics.

Attorney Answers 4


You may have a case for defamation. As in most areas of law, the answer depends on the specific facts. There is no substitute to actually meeting with an attorney and discussing your case.

You can sue someone for defamation. Any lawsuit is expensive to pursue. And proving the elements of defamation can be difficult.

Defamation is a false statement, maliciously or knowingly made to injure someone, usually through ridicule and damage to that person's reputation. Libel is written defamation. Slander is oral defamation.

Defamation requires:

1) a false statement concerning another person.

2) an unprivileged communication to a third party

3) fault amounting to

for public officials and figures - actual malice (actual knowledge that the statement is false or reckless disregard for the truth or falseness of the statement)

for private figures - negligence (what a reasonably prudent person would do, acting under the same or similar circumstances)

4) damages

In many cases damages is the hardest part to prove. I can not tell if you have a case or not based on a brief description on this website. If you are still concerned you should talk to an attorney.

This answer is not intended to be a substitute for personalized legal advice. I have presented only an overview of the legal issues. There are many nuances and some exceptions to general legal principles. Real problems are very fact based.. If you have a specific legal problem, you should consult an attorney. You can find more useful information on my law firm website resources page at or you can contact me directly at or (206) 524-0655.

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David B Pittman

David B Pittman


Great answer


First, "libel" is defamation of the written type. "slander" is defamation of the verbal type. Both require the making of a false statement of fact to a third party, which cause injury or damage. Truth is a defense to a charge of defamation, no matter how injurious the statement maybe. You ask a question but actually do not give enough information to provide an appropriate response and, quite frankly, given the subject matter you describe, this may not be the proper forum to discuss details as it is open to anyone to read. Seek a private consultation with an attorney in your area.

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More info is needed to properly evaluate this situation. Best bet is to call a local defamation lawyer to discuss in detail. However, without damages, a lawsuit would likely cost thousands more than would be recovered. Defamation lawyers typically want at least a 5k retainer just to begin work.

Only 29% Contingency Fee! Phone: 215-510-6755

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I agree with Mr. Marshall's advice. I would also like to add that there are certain situations where libelous or slanderous statements may be protected or privileged, meaning you will not be allowed to act upon them. The most commonplace is statements made in a court.

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