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How can I publish information of wrong doing by someone without getting nailed with a lawsuit?

90210 |

I know of a woman who breeds her poor husky twice a year (every heat) and has done so for at the least the past 4 cycles. She is slowly killing her dog (and misrepresenting the puppies too) and as an animal advocate I would like to get the word out about this woman's mistreatment of her dog (one dog puppy mill!). How can i do this publicly (so as to warn potential buyers what they would be supporting) without getting hit with a "defamation of character" (etc) type lawsuit??? I doubt she has reported any of her income from puppy sales ($7-800 per pup x 8 pups x 2 times per yr = $12,800) to the IRS. Maybe she can be stopped that way?
PS- I am in Canada and she is in the US if that makes any difference.

Attorney Answers 3


  1. You can publish this information in various ways that you likely know of: word of mouth, newspaper, magazines, the Internet. The most common these days and the one that provides you some protection is the Internet. Free Speech is not dead. False Speech is wrong and can cause you liability. When ever you are making claims about someone's business practices and you are false, you have committed 'libel per se' if published and 'slander per se' if spoken. These are very dangerous because the person about whom you are speaking does not have to prove damages, only that what you said is false and then the court or jury will award monetary damages.

    So, in your case, if what you say is TRUE 100%, you are free to publish it. You can go to any of a number of 'gripe sites' like rip off report or complaints board to ring your bell of righteousness. However, REMEMBER, you better be right or they can come after you even if anonymous. They can subpoena IP Addresses and get your identity and sue you.

    The safest is to say nothing.

    If you feel compelled, speak truth with evidence thereof. Do not guess or conjecture. If you want to guess or conjecture, just make sure that you represent what you "know" and what you "guess". Try not to be nasty...just be factual. Then it is a true public announcement.

    Oh, if you are her competitor, you should just stop right now. That is a whole other ball of wax.

    The recommendations in this answer are not considered legal advice for the purposes of ethical evaluation, nor do the create a retention of counsel wherein an attorney-client relationship exists. These recommendations should never be relied upon without first consulting an attorney in your jurisdiction. I am not your attorney, unless we enter into a written agreement fulfilling the terms of that agreement. The comments posted herein are purely for educational purposes and public discourse only.


  2. I'll start by saying that it would be wholly irresponsible for an attorney on a legal Q&A website to advise you of specific courses of conduct that you may take involving the publishing of information about this breeder.

    Defamation (slander = spoken form/ libel = written form) is defamatory, false and unprivileged statements of fact communicated to one or more third persons that causes harm to one's reputation. Truth is a defense and opinions are not actionable.

    It appears from your facts that you have an intimate knowledge of this breeders practices. So, you most likely know this breeder well. If you are genuinely concerned for her dogs, you can look up animal advocacy groups in the breeder's area to see what they may suggest. If you want to learn more about your freedom of speech rights associated with publishing negative information about this breeder, you can contact a defamation attorney in the breeder's state for a consultation.

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  3. The only way to guarantee that you will not get sued, is to say and do nothing. That said, if what you publish is true, you would win a defamation suit.

    J Charles Ferrari Eng & Nishimura 213.622.2255 The statement above is general in nature and does not constitute legal advice, as not all the facts are known. You should retain an attorney to review all the facts specific to your case in order to receive advise specific to your case. The statement above does not create an attorney/client relationship. Answers on Avvo can only be general ones, as specific answers would require knowledge of all the facts. As such, they may or may not apply to the question.