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Florida...What constitues slander/lible?
If someone is talking about me to someone else (others whom i know )...and this/these person(s) who were told these nasty things about me tells me what was said..And what was said about me was unfounded, speculative, nasty, predjudiced, hateful, and untrue...well....is that grounds for me to file a civil complaint/ lawsuit for slander?...FYI-this person has addressed me directly this way in the past out of frustration....and is still referring to me as an " F'n Jew Bch....". She has chosen to target me and my friendship with her husband as the reason of a failed longterm relationship/ marriage which is untrue. She and i were also very good friends for many years until she started having more serious problems with her marriage. At the same time she started to change toward me, I had just ended a longterm (8+ years) relationship of my own.
She had told me herself years ago and on more than one occassion, that she knew that her relationship would eventually end with her husband leaving her because she knew he didn't love her..She knew he was just waiting for the kids to be older......and that she had also overheard a conversation her husband had on the phone when he stated he couldn't stand her...and that she "did absolutely nothing" for him and that he was sorry he ever married her..
I felt so sorry for her and tried to be there for her as much as i could... After awhile she started to act funny and cold...and she began pulling away from our friendship..she accused me of trying to break up her marriage..and she also demanded her husband to stop having any contact with me...which he refused to do. I am pretty sure she was probably very threatened by our friendship..especially since i was now a single friend..We-her husband and I- have remained good friends to this day. They are now seperated and going through the divorce process..
At this point the past friendship between her and me is a thing of the past..that was her doing....At this point there is nothing she could say to undo the hurt she has done.
The persons who heard these things are two people who know me and thought i should know what was being said to them about me.........both of these persons have told me that they would make sworn statements attesting to what has and is still being said and how i am being referred to as.."the homewrecker"..which i am not.........I want to know if i have grounds to file a lawsuit for malicious slander and lible?...A part of me wants this person to be accountable for what she says to others about me as well as to face the truth for the reason of her failed marriage..I am tired of being accused of something i did not do I do not..and have NEVER referred to this person in any derrogetory , predjudiced..or nasty way...While i know she has many issues and personal problems...and i should probably just ignore her.. HOWEVER..i am bothered more by her reference to me by my ethnic origins.. more than anything else....Please..can someone advise me of my rights...thank you...


Senior Member
My response:

The First Amendment to the Constitution provides a broad right of freedom of speech. However, if a false statement has been made about you, can you sue for defamation?

Generally, defamation consists of: (1) a false statement of fact about another; (2) an unprivileged publication of that statement to a third party; (3) some degree of fault, depending on the type of case; and (4) some harm or damage. Libel is defamation by the printed word and slander is defamation by the spoken word.

If the statement is made about a public official - for example, a police officer, mayor, school superintendent - or a public figure - that is a generally prominent person or a person who is actively involved in a public controversy, then it must be proven that the statement was made with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard for whether the statement was true or false. In other words, the fact that the statement was false is not enough to recover for defamation. On the other hand, if the statement was made about a private person, then it must be proven that the false statement was made without reasonable care as to whether the statement was true or false.

There are a number of defenses available in a defamation action. Of course, if a statement is true, there can be no action for defamation. Truth is a complete defense. Additionally, if the statement is an expression of an opinion as opposed to a statement of fact, there can be no action for defamation. We do not impose liability in this country for expressions of opinion. However, whether a statement will be deemed to be an expression of opinion as opposed to a statement of fact is not always an easy question to answer. For example, the mere fact that a statement is found in an editorial is not enough to qualify for the opinion privilege if the particular statement contained in the editorial is factual in nature.

There is also a privilege known as neutral reporting. For example, if a newspaper reports on newsworthy statements made about someone, the newspaper is generally protected if it makes a disinterested report of those statements. In some cases, the fact that the statements were made is newsworthy and the newspaper will not be held responsible for the truth of what is actually said.

There are other privileges as well. For example, where a person, such as a former employer, has a duty to make reports to other people and makes a report in good faith without any malicious intent, that report will be protected even though it may not be totally accurate.

Another example of a privilege is a report on a judicial proceeding. News organizations and others reporting on activities that take place in a courtroom are protected from defamation actions if they have accurately reported what took place.

If you think you have been defamed by a newspaper, magazine, radio or television station, you must make a demand for retraction before a lawsuit can be filed. If the newspaper, magazine, radio or television station publishes a retraction, you can still file suit, but you can only recover your actual damages. No punitive damages can be assessed.

An action for libel or slander must be brought within two years of the time the statements were made. If you wait beyond this two year period, any lawsuit will be barred.

Libel and slander cases are often very complicated. Before you decide to take any action in a libel or slander case, you should consult with an attorney. An attorney can help you decide whether you have a case and advise you regarding the time and expense involved in bringing this type of action.

If you believe you need legal advice, call your attorney. If you do not have an attorney, call The Florida Bar Lawyer Referral Service at 1-800-342-8011, or the local lawyer referral service or legal aid office listed in the yellow pages of your telephone book.

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