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What is defamation?

Defamation is a false statement about another person that exposes the person to public ridicule, contempt, or hatred and discourages other members of the community from having a good opinion of that individual or wanting to associate with them. Defamation can either be verbal, at which time it is called slander, or in writing, at which time it is called libel. An individual is defamed either in writing or orally and one can sue for the interference with their reputation in the community and inability to engage in their normal conduct within the community. It is important to recognize that a false statement is a statement that is substantially incorrect and not one that involves just minor errors. What is interesting about defamation is that the original bearer of false statements is legally responsible to pay the damages resulting from the republication of the statement by other people who repeat the falsehood, if it was foreseeable for the original wrongdoer that other people would be repeating it. Accordingly, each time another person repeats the false statement, the wrongdoer - the original rumormonger - is responsible for the injury cause.