Thank you for using Just Answer. I look forward to helping you.
Your husband may have a claim for defamation, though it may not be the strongest. False and negligent statements about a person or business, which materially injure the reputation of a person or business, are considered defamatory under Maine defamation law. In order to fall within the realm of defamation, statements must be made to a third party without consent (to put it another way, the defendant must have intentionally or negligently made the false statement(s) to a third party). The defamation statute of limitations in Maine is two years, meaning any suit would have to filed within two years of the statement(s) having been made.
Maine further allows plaintiffs to file defamation suits under a provision known as defamation per se. Defamation per se means that the alleged defamatory statement(s), which are repeated by a defendant to a third party, are inherently defamatory.
False implications of:
- Moral turpitude; and
- A loathsome disease
fall under the per se umbrella according to Maine defamation case law. In defamation per se cases, the plaintiff does not have to prove actual damages to successfully litigate a slander or libel case because the aforementioned are enough to ruin a reputation.
Moral turpitude is sort of a catch all that refers to conduct that is vile, contrary to the rules of morality, depraved, etc. Essentially, behavior that may "shock the conscious."
My opinion is that it would be hard to argue that alleging a person was let go because they were drinking and tardy doesn't necessarily rise to the level of moral turpitude. This means that unlike defamation per se claims, your husband would have to show actual damages from her statement to be potentially be successful. Damages cannot be something like hurt feelings, because a court has no way to measure that economically --they need to be something like the loss of a job, business losses, etc.
I'll be honest and say you don't see a lot of defamation suits from private individuals, because the damages simply aren't there to litigate often times. Compare that to, say, a celebrity, who is falsely accused of a vile crime in a publication like the National Enquirer, which then causes them to be fired from a movie, and they fail to earn $25 million dollars they otherwise would have been paid. The latter case has much more appeal.
It's certainly worth your husband still talking to someone and seeing what they recommend. This may be a situation where a "cease and desist" type letter from a lawyer to the old manager may be enough to scare her into no longer making comments to anyone.
Please remember to kindly leave a positive rating for me by clicking on the stars, as that is the only way experts are paid for their time even though you may have already paid a deposit to the site. Follow-up questions asked in this thread do not cost anything additional after leaving a positive rating.
If you need clarification about my answer or additional information, please use the SEND or REPLY button to continue our conversation. Your satisfaction is my goal and I am here to help!