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When a third party makes a false statement of fact about an individual and the individual suffers damages, the individual may have a basis for a defamation lawsuit. Further, that lawsuit can apply to those who repeat the false statement, provided they do so negligently. Accordingly, you may have a basis to file suit against the individual who first made the statement, the individual who released it to the press, and press who published the rumor.
A successful defamation plaintiff must typically show that:
1. The defendant made a statement of fact to a third party regarding the plaintiff;
2. The statement was not true;
3. The statement harmed the plaintiff.
However, it's important to understand that there are many defenses to defamation, including far comments on matters of public interest, innocent dissemination, and opinion. Further, if you are determined to be a public figure, you may wind up having to deal with a higher threshold for a defamation claim.
Accordingly, you'll want to take all information related to the statements and your possible claim to your attorney immediately. He may be able to negotiate to have the statements retracted and he may be able to assist you in recovering a a financial award or settlement.
While I can control the quality of an answer, my control over the content of an answer is restrained by the truth. Please do not shoot the messenger.
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Edited by T-USA on 7/1/2010 at 5:43 AM EST