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Richard, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 53710
Experience:  Attorney with 29 years of experience.
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I am researching for a friend whose husband committed suicide

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I am researching for a friend whose husband committed suicide right in front of her and her daughter and friend 1 1/2 years ago. The husband had a will prior to their marriage and her deceased husband's family is very involved. They are taking things out of the house and off the property because this will did not state the wife and daughter as beneficiaries. The family is also stating that the wife killed him. There were witnesses as well as the police report states suicide. The family is continuing to state she killed him on FB as well as in public conversations. She wants to know if this is slander and how to go about filing a suit. This is in the state of Washington.
Welcome! My goal is to do my very best to understand your situation and to provide a full and complete answer for you.

Good morning. Yes, she is going to have a cause of action for defamation. Let me explain what defamation is and then she can make the determination whether or not it is something she wishes to pursue. I
am going to provide you information on both slander and libel since they are so
closely related and so often confused with each other. They are civil injuries
that harm reputation, cause a reduction in respect, regard or confidence, or
cause disparaging, hostile or disagreeable opinions or feelings against an
individual or entity. The laws regarding libel and slander are the same. To
prevail in a defamation suit for libel or slander and recover damages, a person
("Person A") must prove 4 things: (i) another person ("Person B") conveyed a
defamatory message they knew or should have known to be false; (ii) the
material was published (i.e., conveyed to someone other than Person A); (iii)
Person A can be identified as the person referred to in the defamatory material; and (iv) Person A suffered an injury to Person A's reputation as a result of the communication.
Typically, before actually filing the suit, you would send them a letter detailing the situation and demanding that they: i) retract all prior defamatory statements made, and ii) cease and desist from making any in the future. The letter usually resolves the issue because people hate to get sued. If you need a template for a letter, let me know. A defamation case is a civil suit and, if this comes to a suit, she would simply need to engage an attorney to file the case in state district civil court.

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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Would you please send a template for the letter? I think that would help her get started. The family and she are using the same lawyer because the family stated they would include her as an heir and it isn't happening.

Thanks so much for following up! Yes, I'll be happy to provide the template. I have provided it below.


Re: Notice to Cease and Desist Defamation
Dear _______________:
The purpose of this letter to is to put you on notice of potential legal action against you for the unwarranted and defamatory attacks and lies made by you in an attempt to ruin and damage my reputation. Your baseless and unwarranted actions and accusations have damaged my business reputation and caused serious and irreparable injury to both my reputation and my business. I will not stand by and allow this misconduct to continue.
I hereby demand that you immediately: i) retract any and all defamatory and disparaging remarks about me made by you; and ii) cease and desist in publishing or stating any defamatory statements about me.
I am not in any way attempting to restrict legitimate free speech, but your activities unlawfully encroach upon both my business and my reputation. This letter puts you on formal notice that should you refuse to comply with my demands immediately, I will have no choice but to pursue all legal causes of action, including the filing of a lawsuit, to protect my interests. I will pursue both actual and punitive damages plus attorneys’ fees and costs incurred as a result of your actions.
This is a very serious matter that requires your immediate attention. I have no sense of humor about your actions. This letter is the only one you will receive and the only chance you have to resolve this matter amicably.

[Your Name]

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