Ask a Lawyer and Get Answers to Your Legal Questions
Thank you for using JustAnswer. I am researching your issue and will respond shortly.
Do you think that you'd be able to prove that this accusation was made with actual malice?
Hard to say, but probably not.
Are you an elected individual, or someone with a high degree of public exposure / etc...?
A public school principal.
And what state is this in?
Thank you. One moment while I research this, and will get back to you shortly...
Written defamation is called "libel". To win a libel case, the person first must prove that the statement was false. Second, that person must prove that the statement caused harm. And, third, they must prove that the statement was made without adequate research into the truthfulness of the statement. These steps are for an ordinary citizen. In the case of a celebrity or public official trying to prove libel, they must prove the first three steps, and must also prove the statement was made with the intent to do harm, or with reckless disregard for the truth. Usually specifically referred to as "proving malice". Now the issue here is that you might not quite rise to the level of "public official" as defined in libel law. Most of the time this applies to elected individuals, or at least public officials working in their actual roles.
Also, strictly speaking you can always file a lawsuit against them. Anyone can sue anyone for anything. A lawsuit is merely a legal complaint. It does not require that the person be right when the suit is filed. That is what the judges are for: making determinations of law. It would certainly help if you actually had a valid claim against them.
That being said, you need to contact an attorney in your area that deals with defamation cases. Go to www.lawyers.com or www.legalmatch.com to find an attorney in your area. You should be able to find one that will give you a free initial consultation and better advise you of your rights, any problems with your case, likelihood of success, how courts are treating cases such as yours in your area, and what you should do next.
Hope that clears things up a bit. If you have any other questions, please let me know. If not, and you have not yet, please select the "accept" button. If you have already clicked "accept", or if you will in the future, please let me know so I can track these for my own reports and customer satisfaction stats. Thank you, and again, good luck to you!
If there is something else that I can help you with, please let me know. Please note that I do not get any credit for the time and effort I spent on this (or any question) unless and until you select "accept". Thank you, and again, good luck to you!