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Can I sue for defamation of character and libel?

Athens, GA |

My ex roommate referred to me in two newspaper articles she wrote. Some of the statements she made were untrue and only intended to damage my reputation. I notified her that she needed to retract and correct the statements she made or else I would bring action against her, she hasn't done anything about it though nor has she contacted me. Can I sue in small claims court?

I live in GA and I know its different in different states.

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Attorney answers 1


Defamation/libel cases are always very fact specific so it is impossible to determine from the limited information you provided whether you have a valid claim. However, it does sound like you have have a claim, and I would recommend more investigation.

A recent decision from the Georgia Court of Appeals defined libel as "[a]ny false and malicious defamation of another in any newspaper, magazine, or periodical, tending to injure the reputation of the person and expose him to public hatred, contempt, or ridicule." Since the question indicates you are in Athens, I would recommend that you go to the UGA Law Library and find the latest edition of "Georgia Law of Torts," which has a section on defamation claims that should give you more guidance.

Magistrate court is commonly referred to as "small claims court," and its jurisdiction is limited to claims of $15,000 or less. If the amount you are claiming falls within that limit, you can file in magistrate court. Typically, the rules are more relaxed there than in other courts, as many of the parties are not represented by attorneys. The process will also probably move a lot faster. If your claim exceeds $15,000, you will need to look to state or superior court, both of which have jurisdiction over claims of any amount.

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