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Libel Slander Defamation: 3 questions, do I really have to prove harm, can recording be used and can I sue in small claims?

Seattle, WA |

I contacted the BBB regarding a business and it's service and products after I returned the product for repair, inquiry, there was no real problem only attitude that I expected and this is a wrinkle, knowing their attitudes, I placed an Olympus voice recorder in my pocket before entering the store. There was no harsh words by either party but in responding to my complaint referred to me as "ordering them to view a video" I had sent them to view the problems with the product and that I "scared their customers," my recordings show no such behavior.

The statute states "private conversation" and which I have been told by officers that if out in public there is no right to privacy of which they admit that their facility was full of "scared customers" so then where was the right of privacy?

Attorney Answers 3

Posted

No harm = no claim. Your recitation does not even remotely illustrate defamation. Unless there's more to the story, perhaps it's best to just move on.

The author of this answer is an Attorney-at-Law, licensed to practice law only in the state of Arizona. Unless both you and the author have signed a formal retainer agreement, you are not the author's client, and the author's discussion of issues does not constitute legal advice. Opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author, and are neither privileged nor confidential.

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Asker

Posted

The BBB, which posts it's complaints on line is not a third party...??? BTW one question not answered was could I sue in small claims for the obvious attempt of harm to a profession complaint? Also, there was also a case in Sequim WA years ago where a man was video taping a local officer sitting in his car in the parking lot of a city park talking on his phone with his window down he claimed was a private conversation. The man was arrested and the case was thrown out because the officer "had no right to privacy." So the key is "private conversation" as I said. Speaking to officers on different occasions have told me that even a neighbor sitting on their deck speaking so others can hear is not a "private conversation." Anything else....!

Posted

Using a tape recorder is usually a bad idea. In some states, both parties must consent to being recorded. Keep that in mind.

Any answer given here is NOT legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship in Ohio, Kentucky, or any other jurisdiction. Answers provided are for general information only and should not be considered legal advice for any purpose. For legal advice, you should contact an attorney within the jurisdiction relevant to your issue.

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Joshua A Haubenstock

Joshua A Haubenstock

Posted

In WA, the consent of both parties is needed, so the tape may be problematic.

Asker

Posted

The BBB, which posts it's complaints on line is not a third party...??? BTW one question not answered was could I sue in small claims for the obvious attempt of harm to a profession complaint? Also, there was also a case in Sequim WA years ago where a man was video taping a local officer sitting in his car in the parking lot of a city park talking on his phone with his window down he claimed was a private conversation. The man was arrested and the case was thrown out because the officer "had no right to privacy." So the key is "private conversation" as I said. Speaking to officers on different occasions have told me that even a neighbor sitting on their deck speaking so others can hear is not a "private conversation." Anything else....!

Posted

In WA it is unlawful to audio record without the knowledge and consent of both parties. Whether or not the other person had an expectation of privacy is a HUGE concern, as you are basically admitting to unlawful conduct. Defamation is the act of sharing with a third party information that is false or harmful or wrong. As a private person, you do not have to prove that you have been damaged by this conduct, but your fact pattern does not even suggest that the business contacted any third party. That is the issue I see.

Using Avvo does not form an attorney client relationship.

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Posted

The BBB, which posts it's complaints on line is not a third party...??? BTW one question not answered was could I sue in small claims for the obvious attempt of harm to a profession complaint? Also, there was also a case in Sequim WA years ago where a man was video taping a local officer sitting in his car in the parking lot of a city park talking on his phone with his window down he claimed was a private conversation. The man was arrested and the case was thrown out because the officer "had no right to privacy." So the key is "private conversation" as I said. Speaking to officers on different occasions have told me that even a neighbor sitting on their deck speaking so others can hear is not a "private conversation." Anything else....!

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