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Have a Podcast on my friend and I talk about our experiences…

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Have a Podcast on my friend and I talk about our experiences at our old job with our old coworkers. We use aliases for all of it of them is threatening to Sue us for defamation even though we've never said her name or the companies we work for. Does she have a case in Colorado?

Lawyer's Assistant: Have you talked to a CO lawyer about this?

Not yet

Lawyer's Assistant: What steps have you taken so far?

Nothing I just got the letter today asking to cease and desist take everything down and issue an apology or she will Sue us

Submitted: 4 months ago.Category: Legal
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Answered in 5 minutes by:
3/19/2018
Lawyer: Attorney Wendy, Lawyer replied 4 months ago
Attorney Wendy
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 1,197
Experience: Member at Keefer & Keefer LLC
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Hello. My name is ***** ***** I am an attorney. I am working on a response to your question and should have that to you shortly.

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Lawyer: Attorney Wendy, Lawyer replied 4 months ago

In Colorado (and most states) defamation is "a communication holding an individual up to contempt or ridicule that causes the individual to incur injury or damage." Thus, to prove a claim for defamation, the plaintiff (here your former co-worker) needs to prove that you made a false statement about her and that publication (saying or writing the statement such that third parties heard or saw it) of the statement occurred (in other words you didn't just say the statement to her with no witnesses) and that she was damaged by the statement. On the damages side, that can often be difficult to prove but if the statement can be said to relate to the person's profession or business, the law assumes that person was damaged. So, if the comments related to her work, work ethic, things she did or does or says on the job, it could meet this standard. There are couple issues with the claim, however, and that is - as you say - that you did not include actual names. That alone does not mean a defamation claim cannot be made but she would have to be able to bring in evidence that the statement would be reasonably understood by your listeners to be about her. Here is where you have to make that assessment, as I am not in a position to do so. If your audience or any portion of your audience would've been able to discern you were speaking of her, she may have satisfied that part of the claim. If not, then she would have a difficult time. The other issue is that truth is a defense to any defamation claim and statements of opinion are not statements of fact that give rise to defamation claims (e.g., if you said she is a horrible server you may be able to defend that as opinion, but if you said she stole money from the restaurant that would be a defamatory fact that you only escape liability for if it is actually true).

Though you may have several options to defend any case she would file against you, you may want to review what you've said to reach an informed decision on whether listeners could reasonably figure out you were talking about her (versus her just knowing because she was there for the events discussed) and whether your statements are either all true or opinion. Once you have given this some thought, feel free to reply this email with any additional questions that may arise.

You can then consider how and if to respond to her letter and whether to take down your Podcasts. I hope this is helpful for this issue and for future Podcasts.

If I answered your question and provided excellent service, I would greatly appreciate a 5 star rating at this time.

Please note: This information is for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. No course of action is being proposed and no attorney-client relationship or privilege has been formed as a result of this conversation.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
If we put a disclaimer at the front of each episode saying th stories are fiction would that change it?
Lawyer: Attorney Wendy, Lawyer replied 4 months ago

Such a disclaimer can't hurt. Something like, "The stories presented are fiction and any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental." It may not provide a 100% defense if someone can claim that the resemblance is not coincidental, but it would provide a lawyer defending you something on which to base not only that these were not statements but fiction so they are false by design and also that with such a disclaimer, no reasonable person would have assumed the story was about the other party. The purpose of defamation laws is to protect people from false statements that another would take as true and that cause damage to that person. Here, if this stories are identified as fiction, a reasonable person also would not likely believe they contained true statements about anyone.

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Lawyer: Attorney Wendy, Lawyer replied 4 months ago

Happy Friday. I just wanted to check in to see if you had any additional questions.

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DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.

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