If a manager tells someone you were fired for looking at child porn and this was not true and it cost me my marriage is that
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See Mark v. Seattle Times, 96 Wn.2d 473, 635 P.2d 1081 (1981) where the court said the following:
"At common law, strict liability existed for defamation so long as the plaintiff demonstrated that the statements complained of were (1) false, (2) defamatory, and (3) published. The defendant, however, could raise two affirmative defenses: truth or privilege. See W. Prosser, Torts, ch. 19 (4th ed. 1971). The burden was on the defendant to establish truth, but if proved, it was a complete defense. The common law recognized several types of absolute and conditional or qualified privileges to publish fair and accurate reports of proceedings of public interest and to make fair comment on facts relating to public figures or public issues. Under the common law, a qualified privilege could be defeated only by proving the publisher either published maliciously or abused the privilege. See generally Taskett v. KING Broadcasting Co., 86 Wn.2d 439, 456-59, 546 P.2d 81 (1976) (Horowitz, J., dissenting); W. Prosser, at 785-96.
Since 1964, however, the United States Constitution has been interpreted to restrict the states' ability to define and impose damages on defamatory speech. In New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254, 11 L. Ed. 2d 686, 84 S. Ct. 710, 95 A.L.R.2d 1412 (1964), the Supreme Court held that the first amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits a public official from recovering damages for defamation unless "actual malice" -- knowledge or reckless disregard of falsity -- is established. This rule was extended to any public figure in Curtis Publishing Co. v. Butts, 388 U.S. 130, 18 L. Ed. 2d 1094, 87 S. Ct. 1975 (1967). In Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc., 418 U.S. 323, 41 L. Ed. 2d 789, 94 S. Ct. 2997 (1974), the court concluded that the New York Times' "actual malice" rule, while still applicable to public figures, did not apply to news coverage pertaining to private individuals even though that coverage addressed matters of public interest. The court reasoned that a malice requirement would inadequately serve the competing values of vigorous news coverage versus the private citizen's right to recover for injury to reputation. Gertz, at 348. See also Hutchinson v. Proxmire, 443 U.S. 111, 61 L. Ed. 2d 411, 99 S. Ct. 2675 (1979); Comment, The Evolution of the Public Figure Doctrine in Defamation Actions, 41 Ohio St. L.J. 1009, 1018-27 (1980).
In Taskett, we relied on Gertz in announcing a new rule in defamation actions:
[A] private individual, who is neither a public figure nor official, may recover actual damages for a defamatory falsehood, concerning a subject of general or public interest, where the substance makes substantial dangers to reputation apparent, on a showing that in publishing the statement, the defendant knew or, in the exercise of reasonable care, should have known that the statement was false, or would create a false impression in some material respect.
(Italics deleted.) Tasket, at 445. In effect, the court created a negligence standard for defamation actions involving private citizens in matters concerning the public interest.
After the decision in Gertz, in Cox Broadcasting Corp. v. Cohn, 420 U.S. 469, 493-95, 43 L. Ed. 2d 328, 95 S. Ct. 1029 (1975), the Supreme Court held that the First Amendment prohibits a state from imposing sanctions based on the accurate publication of information obtained from judicial records that are open to public inspection. In effect, the court recognized at least a conditional privilege to report such information. The next year, however, the court made it clear that the "public figure-actual malice" rule does not automatically extend to an individual merely because of his involvement in civil judicial proceedings. Time, Inc. v. Firestone, 424 U.S. 448, 47 L. Ed. 2d 154, 96 S. Ct. 958 (1976)."
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