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defamation of a deceased person

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T

Tina Suratt

Guest
I live in the state of Illinois. I wanted to know if a person can be sued for defamation of character of a deceased person? After my brothers death, my sister suddenly came out with this story that my brother had been molesting her and other physical abuse from age 4 until she was 12. She has told this story all over town, and humiliated our whole family. My brother was very popular and known as a pretty decent man. She has ruined his reputation and memory, and some family members wont even speak his name any more. Can another family member sue her on behalf of the deceased? And what would be needed as proof? I can prove he didnt do it. Would she be forced to prove that he did????
 


I AM ALWAYS LIABLE

Senior Member
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Tina Suratt:
I live in the state of Illinois. I wanted to know if a person can be sued for defamation of character of a deceased person? After my brothers death, my sister suddenly came out with this story that my brother had been molesting her and other physical abuse from age 4 until she was 12. She has told this story all over town, and humiliated our whole family. My brother was very popular and known as a pretty decent man. She has ruined his reputation and memory, and some family members wont even speak his name any more. Can another family member sue her on behalf of the deceased? And what would be needed as proof? I can prove he didnt do it. Would she be forced to prove that he did????<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

My response:

I understand exactly what you are saying. Unfortunately, the answer to your question is, no. "Defamation of Character" (libelous and slanderous statements or writings) are "personal" torts. That means that such "wrongs" are actionable only by the person being wronged. And, in order to be "actionably wronged," you must be alive.
For example, after a person dies, how many times have you read about "torrid affairs" about that person's life, or other nasty things? Even if you could prove the things being said are untrue, you'd have to admit that you weren't around the deceased person every minute of their life, and as such, could in some respects, be true. And the deceased person is no longer able to testify, or admit or deny the veracity of the statements or writings. No one enjoys having the name and memory of a family member dragged through the mud, but there's nothing you can personally do about it; hence the old saying, "Never speak ill of the dead", but they do, and they can, anyway.

IAAL



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