Have a local lawyer send the person a cease and desist letter if you don't think it will throw more fuel on the fire.
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Defamation is defined as the publication of one or more false and unprivileged statements of fact to one or more third parties concerning an identifiable party, which publication harms that party’s reputation. In Illinois, a statement can be defamatory per se, where its meaning is apparent on its face and there is no need to prove actual harm. Our state recognizes five categories of such statements: a statement imputing an inability to perform or want of professional integrity in performing employment duties; words that prejudice a person or impute a lack of ability in a person’s profession; a statement that imputes the commission of a crime; a statement that imputes infection with some loathsome communicable disease; and words that impute a person has engaged in adultery or fornication. Assigning a monetary figure to presumed damages (mental suffering, harm to personal and professional reputation as well as standing in the community, economic loss, and personal humiliation) can be very difficult; it tends to be an inexact and arbitrary process. Alternatively, the statement can be defamatory per quod, requiring extrinsic evidence (where the defamatory character of the statement does not appear on its face). A statement that is defamatory on its face but does not fall within one of the five categories above is also per quod. Some defenses include truth, consent, innocent construction, absolute privilege (e.g., a statement made in a judicial or legislative proceedings, or to the police), conditional or qualified privilege (e.g., where the public has an interest in receiving the information), opinion, and the fair report privilege (public reports of governmental proceedings). With respect to the litigation privilege, that covers any statement made during any phase preliminary to or required for the proceeding (assuming the statement is pertinent to same, which requirement is generally liberally construed). False light invasion of privacy is a tort that is oftentimes plead (in the alternative) alongside defamation. This is an incredibly complex and fact-specific area of the law. Whether or not it makes sense to proceed, financially and otherwise, is a decision that will need to be made. Good luck!
Robert T. Kuehl
Kuehl Law, P.C.
You likely cannot go after uyour neighbor for libel or slander, but assuming you meant the calls were to DCFS, you should know that false claims are taken seriously. These people are far too busy to investigate intentional lies. There is a procedure for claiming false report. Since reports are assumed to be anonymous, you will have to call DCFS to find out how to make the complaint for false reporting. Good luck.
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