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LawTalk
LawTalk, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 27889
Experience:  I am a practicing attorney with more than 30 years of experience in the legal field.
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I belong to a campground and went to our monthly meeting that

Customer Question

I belong to a campground and went to our monthly meeting that is governed by a BOD (7 people), Corporate Secretary and a CFO. While I was in the membership, the Corporate Secretary stated something that I disagreed with, and told another member, that her statement wasn't true. The Corporate Secretary heard me then threw the microphone across the table, pointed to every Board Member, including the CFO then pointed to me and said, "She says it isn't true" about her statement. She did this in front of not only the BOD, etc., she also said this, pointing me out in front of the membership that was at the meeting. I have been a member of this campground for close to 14 years and know and associate with a lot of these members. I was so embarrassed because when I made the statement, it was not directed to her, but my friend that was sitting next to me. Can I sue her for defamation and total embarrassment?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  LawTalk replied 1 year ago.

Good morning Barbara,

I'm Doug, and I'm very sorry to hear of your situation.

While a cause of action for embarrassment is not allowed under the laws of the State of California, a lawsuit for Defamation does exist as a possibility.

From a legal standpoint, defamation is the issuance of a false statement about another person, which causes that person to suffer harm.

1. Slander typically involves an oral (spoken) representation.
2. Libel involves the making of defamatory statements in a printed or fixed medium, such as the internet, a magazine or newspaper.

In order to win a defamation case, you must prove the following:

  1. A false statement was made about an individual, generally yourself;
  2. The statement was made to a third party;
  3. If the defamatory matter is of public concern, (for example if you are a famous person) fault amounting at least to negligence on the part of the publisher.
  4. Finally, you must show that you have suffered damages.

In the non-business setting, where is it not your business which has been defamed, most cases involving defamation can be appropriately handled in your local small claims court. Filing your lawsuit is easy, and your case will typically be heard in 30 to 60 days.


You may reply back to me using the Continue the Conversation or Reply to Expert link if you have additional questions; and if you do, I ask that you please keep in mind that I do not know what you may already know or with what you need help, unless you tell me.


Please remember to press the smiley faces/stars on the right of your screen when we are finished with our communication so I will be credited for my time in assisting you.
Kindly remember to ONLY rate my answer when you are fully satisfied. If you feel the need to rate anything less than OK, please stop and contact me with whatever issue or clarification you may need. I will be happy to continue further and assist you until I am able to address your concerns to your satisfaction.

I wish you the best in 2012,

Doug

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I guess I don't understand. The General Manager of the campground, pointed me out to the whole Board of Directors (after she threw the microphone because she was upset with me) and then told the membership that I said that I didn't believe what she said, and I wasn't even talking to her and I made the statement to the friend that was sitting next to me. Then she went to a non member of the park and said that I called her a liar (all I did was disagree with her) and that person came up to me and said that the General Manager told her that I called her a liar, and then a board member came up to me and said how dare you call her a liar. This has been truly embarrassing to me, and she gets to walk away with the satisfaction that it's o.k. and that my feelings don't mean anything. I think that I am truly disappointed, because it doesn't seem that I have any rights. Please let me know what kind of rights I can rely on. Thank you

Expert:  LawTalk replied 1 year ago.
Good morning Barbara,

Let me see if I can explain this a bit more clearly. Under the law, if someone issues a false statement of fact about you, you have recourse---through a Defamation proceeding, as I discussed earlier. However, opinion speech is protected under the US Constitution. You are free to voice your opinions, however disturbing others might find them.

The law does not demand a certain code of civility between persons, and is not intended to protect our feelings, per se. People may legally be as hateful, as discourteous and as rude as they please to one another, and that does not give those offended a cause of action to sue the person offending them. Only certain types of personal offenses are unlawful and thereby come under a law granting the remedy of a lawsuit.

As I don't know all that you know about what transpired, I am not in a position to tell you how meritorious a claim for defamation you do have. Being called a liar is purely a statement of opinion. Now, had you said something like, you had paid your campground obligations, and the Corporate Secretary announced that you had not paid your obligations and that you owed the campground $1,000----that would clearly constitute a false statement of fact, and one which you could sue on.

If something like that occurred, then you may well have a viable case, and as I suggested, small claims will probably be the court that you would want to sue in.

I wish you the best in 2012.

I understand that you may be disappointed by the Answer you received, as it was not necessarily what you had hoped to hear. Had I been able to provide an Answer which might have given you a clearly successful legal outcome, it would have been my pleasure to do so.

You may reply back to me using the Reply to Expert link if you have additional questions; and if you do, I ask that you please keep in mind that I do not know what you may already know or with what you need help, unless you tell me.

Kindly take a moment to rate my service to you based on the understanding of the law I provided. Please understand that I have no control over the how the law impacts your particular situation, and I trust that you can understand how it would be unfair for me to be punished by a (negative rating) ----the first 2 stars/faces----for having been honest with you about the law.

Thank you,

Doug

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