I have had multiple instances of individuals in my area insulting me with a mental illness term since the fall of 2011. This is almost certainly the result of slander by a former landlord. (I do not suffer from the illness.) Since it continues to be a problem, even with a few people in healthcare, I think I should take legal action. It is causing a hostile environment in healthcare. Can I file a defamation lawsuit? Under what statute(s)?
Country relating to Question: United States
State (if USA): Florida
Thank you for the post, I am happy to assist you by answering your questions. Defamation of character is a defamation of character is a common law cause of action. You can however file a defamation of character suit based upon false statements of fact published with the result of damaging your character. Please let me know if you need additional guidance or have any follow up questions.
When you say "common law" you mean non-statutory law? Please provide more detail; e.g., which court (county, circuit, etc.), and maximum dollar amount in damages.
Yes, when I said common law I mean not codified by statute because it is very well settled. The dollar amount you sue for depends on the court wherein you file suit. For example, in small claims court, the cap is $5000. Therefore, if you sue for more than $5000 you would be precluded from suing in small claims court. How much would you be suing for?
How do I determine the dollar amount of the damages? This has been going on now in my community almost a year. It has done significant damage to my character and will no doubt result in further discrimination. I won't always know when a problem is the result of the discrimination, because people don't come right out and say it.
Have you suffered any loss of income? Has the situation forced you to seek medical treatment? Have you suffered any financial harm?
I cannot get healthcare from the providers who have created a hostile environment now, and they may cause other persons to discriminate against me. There is a finite number of doctors, for example, that I can go to. There is a finite number of grocers I can go to where I won't be insulted. If I am refused housing or a service because of the slander I probably won't know it. How do you quantify this?
Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX indeed difficult to qualify these damages but it can be done. You would decide what a fair sum is in your estimation (attorneys literally arbitrarily select a number) and the judge or jury would actually determine an appropriate sum. With that said, what number would you list your damages as?
At least $5000. Any further details about drafting the suit?
ok, if you are suing for less than $15000 you would sue in county court. Are you suing for more than $15000
I think $15000 would be sufficient. I have at least half a dozen specific examples of being insulted with a specific term. In one instance, two persons associated with the former landlord tried to start a fist fight with me. I'm afraid I don't live in a very friendly community. Which legal form should I look for?
Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX county would you be filing suit?
Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX Contact the Law Library of Manatee County to receive forms for a county civil lawsuit by phone at(NNN) NNN-NNNN For your reference, see http://www.manateeclerk.com/Departments/CivilFamily/CvCounty.aspxPlease let me know if you need additional guidance.
So when I draft this for the court, should I write, Example 1, Example 2, Example 3, etc.? Should I include co-defendants who contributed to the problem?
You would include all defendants in your complaint, and each "example" would be a separate cause of action.
You mean each example would or could be a separate suit? How much is the filing fee?
Yes, that is what I mean. The filing fee is $300. See http://www.manateeclerk.com/GeneralInfo/Fees.aspx
What would the defense be likely to assert in such an action? The accusation is not true. Even if it were, discrimination is prohibited under many circumstances, such as in healthcare. Does the ADA apply to all healthcare facilities?
Truth is an absolute defense to a defamation of character action. Therefore, they would likely argue truth. The ADA does not apply to defamation actions.
If they tried to argue truth they would almost certainly lose. What laws prohibit discrimination in healthcare on the basis of disability?
The ADA, but as I understood your claim, it is based on defamation of character, not discrimination due to disability.
So if a physician refused to treat me because I'm retarded, or mentally ill, then that would be covered under the ADA? What if he's insulting me the whole time he's treating me? Isn't that tantamount to failure to provide a reasonable standard of care?
Not necessarily, the ADA does not require treatment in all instances, it forbids discrimination. Discrimination against the mentally ill is prohibited.
Which type of lawyer is best qualified for a defamation of character suit? I will probably have to file as a pro se plaintiff, however, and it wouldn't be the first time.
A personal injury attorney.
DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.
The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).