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Ely
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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I reside in NC. Would it be crossing the line over my opinion

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I reside in NC. Would it be crossing the line over my opinion to slander if I said the following statement to a friend of mine:

"We removed our child from this institution (name of institution). At this time, I cannot reveal the reasons why. I strongly admonish you to do the same."

If I stick to this script above and do not waver. Would I be at any risk of slander?
Hello friend. My name is XXXXX XXXXX welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: (1) this is general information only, not legal advice, and, (2) there may be a slight delay between your follow ups and my replies.

If I stick to this script above and do not waver. Would I be at any risk of slander?

The answer is no.

Slander is verbal defamation and libel is written defamation - they are two sides of the same (defamation) coin.

In order to recover for defamation, a plaintiff must allege and prove that the defendant made false, defamatory statements of or concerning the plaintiff, which were published to a third person, causing injury to the plaintiff's reputation. Hall v. Publishing Co., 46 N.C.App. 760, 266 S.E.2d 397 (1980).

The elements simply do not exist here. There was no falsity stated about the institution at all. Ergo, this in itself is not actionable as defamation.

I hope this helps and clarifies.

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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Ok, so if the people that I make this statement to, go back to the institution and begin asking questions based on my statements, it would not give the institution the right to question me and/or press charges?


 


Also, if the people I make this statement to tell other people that use this institution, which causes more customers to stop using their business (which would be out of my control, if they tell others), would that place me at risk?


 


Your answers obviously reflect NC correct?

Ok, so if the people that I make this statement to, go back to the institution and begin asking questions based on my statements, it would not give the institution the right to question me and/or press charges?

Absolutely not. First of all, understand that defamation is a CIVIL matter, not criminal. So they cannot 'press charges' even if they wanted to.

Also, let us say you stated "this company feeds the children expired food and abuses the children by hitting them if they cry," then this is different. That is arguably defamation. What you would state is nowhere close.

Nor can they 'question' you in any way. This is not a criminal matter.

Also, if the people I make this statement to tell other people that use this institution, which causes more customers to stop using their business (which would be out of my control, if they tell others), would that place me at risk?

No. Opinion about a business is protected by the First Amendment. People pass judgment on companies all the time in private, and online, such as on yelp.com.

Your answers obviously reflect NC correct?

Correct, the case law used is from North Carolina: Hall v. Publishing Co., 46 N.C.App. 760, 266 S.E.2d 397 (1980).

Gentle Reminder: Please use the REPLY button to keep chatting, or RATE and submit your rating when we are finished.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thanks Ely. This is extremely important that I am clear on what you are saying, so forgive me if it feels as though I am asking the same questions in different ways.


 


If the people I gave this statement to, go back to the institution and discuss my statements to them, (since the institution will know exactly what I am referring to, due to our experiences with them and things that were said regarding our own child), they still have no grounds to punish us in anyway via slander and/or making a report of any kind?

Friend,

Thanks Ely. This is extremely important that I am clear on what you are saying, so forgive me if it feels as though I am asking the same questions in different ways.

No worries at all. I understand the need for clarity and understanding the nuance. I am here just for this purpose. So do not worry.

If the people I gave this statement to, go back to the institution and discuss my statements to them, (since the institution will know exactly what I am referring to, due to our experiences with them and things that were said regarding our own child), they still have no grounds to punish us in anyway via slander and/or making a report of any kind?

Correct. As we have already discussed, the statement above does not amount to defamation, arguably. Review the elements again:

In order to recover for defamation, a plaintiff must allege and prove that the defendant made false, defamatory statements of or concerning the plaintiff, which were published to a third person, causing injury to the plaintiff's reputation. Hall v. Publishing Co., 46 N.C.App. 760, 266 S.E.2d 397 (1980).

So this is not defamation. Also, defamation is a civil matter, so even if it was (which it is not), then no 'report' of any kind can be made - they'd have to pursue relief in court themselves.

People post scathing reviews all the time online and otherwise. Provided that there is no falsity stated, then it is not defamation. Your statement would be far from it as it does not even state a falsity - the main element of defamation.

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