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legalgems
legalgems, Lawyer
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Just Answer consultant at Self employed
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Been sued for defamation on a web site about another person.

Customer Question

Hi, been sued for defamation on a web site about another person.
JA: Because laws vary from place to place, can you tell me what state you're in?
Customer: CcALIFORNIA
JA: Has anything been filed or reported?
Customer: WAS FILED BUT NOT IN MY NAME BECAUSE THEY HAD TO FIND OUT IT WAS ME, NOW THAT THEY HAVE, THEY ARE THRETENING TO AMEND
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: no
Submitted: 2 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  legalgems replied 2 months ago.

Hello! I will be reviewing your question and posting a response momentarily; if you have any follow up questions please respond here. Thanks!

Expert:  legalgems replied 2 months ago.

I'm sorry to hear this; I presume they filed as a John Doe and are going to amend to name the proper defendant; what is your exact question please?

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
I posted information about a person on a web site. This information was shared with me by the individual via several emails, so based on their own words not false. However I don't think they recall I have those emails since this was back in 2008. What are my options?
Expert:  legalgems replied 2 months ago.

The plaintiff (the person that brings the lawsuit) has the burden of proof to prove the elements of the particular cause of action;

for defamation, the cause of action can be based on either written (libel) or oral (slander) statements that are false, that will do injury to the person.

Here are the relevant codes:

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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 a proximate result thereof. Special damage is defined in Section 48a of 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.

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So if the defendant can prove that the element of false information is not met, the court will dismiss the action. The court can also award attorney fees and costs, upon request, in defending the action if they determine the case was brought frivolously, without merit.

So one can wait to be served and then present the information as to how the statements are true, or if the person is threatening to amend the complaint they can write a letter explaining the existence of the documents that would prove the statements were true.

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Information provided is for educational purposes only. Consultation with a personal attorney is always recommended so your particular facts may be considered. Thank you and take care.

Expert:  legalgems replied 2 months ago.

Hello again; just checking in to see how things worked out;
if you have further questions please don't hesitate to reach out to me here on Just Answer.
Thanks!