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Is a teacher/coach liable for defamation of character

Customer Question
Is a teacher/coach liable...

Is a teacher/coach liable for defamation of character towards a student for telling faculty throughout school system that the student quit playing a sport due to being pregnant? The student isn't pregnant and the student explained that she quit the sport due to not enjoying the sport any longer. Now the student is suffering emotional distress due to the teacher/coach slander>

Lawyer's Assistant: Have you spoken to an attorney or school administrator about this?

Yes, but they are covering for the faculty

Lawyer's Assistant: Because laws vary based on location, what state is the school in? And is it a public or private institution?

GA

Lawyer's Assistant: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?

Public

Submitted: 6 months ago.Category: Legal
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Answered in 4 minutes by:
8/1/2017
Lawyer: LegalPro54, Lawyer replied 6 months ago
LegalPro54
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Lawyer: LegalPro54, Lawyer replied 6 months ago

The statement could be construed as defamatory, however it probably isn't something that you'd want to sue over for a few reasons. First, emotional distress is generally not recoverable as a form of damage in defamation suits. Defamation suits are generally to recover financial losses suffered as the result of a false statement, and there are unlikely to be any actual financial losses here. Second, truth is an absolute defense to a claim for defamation, which means that the teacher if sued would be entitled to discover all the student's medical records to determine if in fact she was actually pregnant. This can be very invasive and counter productive. Finally, if the student has suffered distress as a result of these statements, a public lawsuit culminating in a trial at which she will be forced to give testimony would be highly distressing and would only draw more attention to the statements. A complaint to the school is the appropriate course of action here. The coach's comments are highly inappropriate and should absolutely warrant discipline if not termination.

If I can clarify anything at all for you, please do not hesitate to ask. It is my pleasure to assist you further if necessary....

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Customer reply replied 6 months ago
Thank You, yes she is not pregnant, as we tested her, to make sure before we looked like idiots.
Lawyer: LegalPro54, Lawyer replied 6 months ago

Thanks for your response. While I completely agree with you that these comments are highly inappropriate and offensive on the part of the teacher, a defamation suit would be a huge mistake I fear. The main problem is the damages aspect, but a lawsuit would also draw tremendous attention to something that is already embarrassing and upsetting. I would write a strongly worded letter to the principal and demand that the teacher be disciplined, which they likely will.

Again if there is anything more I can do for you just let me know. It's my pleasure....

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