My name isXXXXX a licensed attorney. Glad to try and help out.
Sure sorry for the circumstances, truly. My heart goes out to you.
Accordingly, I'm pleased to share the following information. You can certainly sue for breach of contract. That much is an easy call. In terms of tort law, that is more of a gray area. Specifically, you would need to prove the elements codified at California Civil Code §§ 44, 45a, and 46. I provided these provisions (below) for reference. But, it boils down to these five elements:
(1) publication (meaning dissemination, sharing with at least one other person, need not be publication in the formal, traditional sense of the word) of a factual statement;
(2) that is false;
(4) naturally tends to injure or cause "special damage";
(5) with the defendant's fault constituting at least the threshold of negligence.
Now, having carefully considered everything you've shared, here is my best recommendation. There are some instances where going forward without legal counsel is a viable option. This is not one of them, however, and in all candor proceeding as a pro perlitigant would not be advisable here, which I realize of course you realize. So, your next step at this juncture is to confer with legal counsel, but the good news is that process is entirely free of charge to you. I can only imagine what a stressful and trying time this is for you, so please believe me I mean it when I say I am glad to say there is a way to seek justice without having the burden of trying to pay attorneys' fees .
To help folks in this online venue, I am required to follow site rules including refraining from accepting cases and/or making direct referrals to named attorneys. However, I can tell you where I would turn were I in your very shoes. Toward that end, my very next step would be to take advantage of the resources of the non-profit, American Bar Association accredited, National Board of Trial Advocacy Division of the National Board of Legal Specialty Certification. Here is a listing of all such Board Certified Civil Trial Advocates practicing in your jurisdiction (please just click the following link):
These folks would generally be regarded as the cream of the crop, so to speak, and I believe your best chance of securing competent advice and counsel lies in this database, which is also officially endorsed by the State Bar of California. This is a process that can only be accomplished by making contact with a law firm, as I've outlined. Nothing will change without exploring your options, so I would encourage you to do so as your next step to standing up for yourself.
If you have a follow-up question or need clarification, please just say the word by using "reply" to reach me.
You deserve to be treated properly, and I truly hope all works out for you.
44. Defamation is effected by either of the following: (a) Libel. (b) Slander.
45. Libel is a false and unprivileged publication by writing,printing, picture, effigy, or other fixed representation to the eye,which exposes any person to hatred, contempt, ridicule, or obloquy,or which causes him to be shunned or avoided, or which has a tendency to injure him in his occupation.
45a. A libel which is defamatory of the plaintiff without the necessity of explanatory matter, such as an inducement, innuendo or other extrinsic fact, is said to be a libel on its face. Defamatory language not libelous on its face is not actionable unless the plaintiff alleges and proves that he has suffered special damage as approximate result thereof. Special damage is defined in Section 48aof this code.
46. Slander is a false and unprivileged publication, orally uttered, and also communications by radio or any mechanical or other means which: 1. Charges any person with crime, or with having been indicted,convicted, or punished for crime; 2. Imputes in him the present existence of an infectious,contagious, or loathsome disease; 3. Tends directly to injure him in respect to his office,profession, trade or business, either by imputing to him general disqualification in those respects which the office or other occupation peculiarly requires, or by imputing something with reference to his office, profession, trade, or business that has a natural tendency to lessen its profits; 4. Imputes to him impotence or a want of chastity; or 5. Which, by natural consequence, causes actual damage.