I am a victim of Home Improvement Fraud. I am in the process of taking legal action against the scammer. I made posts on the sites he advertises on telling people to beware of him. I also sent the link mycase.IN.gov which shows he was charged with felony Home Improvement Fraud in Hamilton County but pled down to misdemeanor HIF. When he saw my posts, he was angry. He started posting all sorts of crap. It didn't bother me until he accused me of hiring someone to kill him. I also have a text from him where he told me the guy who filed against him in Hamilton County, tried to kill him, too.
Do I have any recourse?
Defamation (sometimes called "libel" if it is WRITTEN, or "slander" if it is SPOKEN) requires the plaintiff (you) to prove that the Defendant: (1) maliciously, (2) published, (3) a false statement of fact, (4) that was defamatory, and (5) the publication of the statement caused compensable damages.
One issue the plaintiff must deal with in a defamation case is whether the utterance at issue is a "false statement of FACT" at all. To be a "false statement," an utterance must first be a STATEMENT OF FACT. If someone is saying their OPINION is that you did something illegal, that's not a statement of fact, it's an opinion, and an opinion can be accurate or inaccurate, but it cannot be true or false. Also, a statement that is obviously intended as parody or satire is not considered a "false statement" for defamation purposes.
You must also prove the statement was "defamatory." "Defamatory" means "injurious to one's name or reputation." Let's say that person A tells all your fiends that, when A was riding with you in the car, you ran almost every stop sign you came to, and that you exceeded the speed limit by at least 20 mph for the whole trip. Even if those statements are true, unless you are a professional driver, or a person who is required to obey traffic laws in your job or profession, a jury is unlikely to be convinced that the statements are "injurious to your name or reputation."
Then, let's assume that a jury found A's statements were "injurious to your name or reputation," perhaps because you are a minister or priest, and people might think ill of you if you don't obey traffic laws. Even then, you would have to show that you were ACTUALLY HARMED in some way that can be alleviated by paying you a sum of money.
Finally, the Plaintiff has to be prepared to defeat the argument that the allegedly defamatory statement was entitled to "qualified privilege." "Qualified privilege" means that the person who published the statement published it to a person who had a right to know the information in the statement. Moreover, certain types of statements are privileged automatically, such as statements made to police during a criminal investigation, or statements made in the course of a judicial proceeding.
In your situation, it certainly sounds like you may have a defamation case against this guy (assuming you did NOT hire a hitman). You need to talk to an attorney to get definitive advice.
I'm licensed to practice law only in Indiana, and we've never met, so I can't give you "legal" advice. My answer is simply "friendly" advice based on my experience as an attorney in Indiana, my knowledge of federal and common law, and common sense. Even if you are in Indiana, employment law questions are very fact specific, and based on the limited information you provided in your post, I can't give you legal advice, and my answer is intended as general information only. It doesn't create an attorney-client relationship.
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