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The city recently brought a civil lawsuit against me and I…

The city recently brought...

The city recently brought a civil lawsuit against me and I went to the first hearing and showed that in fact the elements of criminal activity had involved my son and not me. When the events happened, I was out of the country, but own my home. Despite all of the elements of the claim which were shown to be false (naming me instead of my son) the City published the complaint to the public and at least one news station. Consequently I appear to be the same person as was arrested for possesion of controlled substances and accused as such, as well as several other issues where my name was specified as the unlawful activist. As the City knew better before publishing the complaint, do I have any recourse to go after this libel?

Lawyer's Assistant: What state are you in? It matters because laws vary by location.

Ohio

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

Went to court, they boarded up my house for a week, then said if I signed a paper I could go back in. Neither myself or son received the abatement notice which could have prevented this. I was in Brazil, and arrived the day before hearing. I had emailed for an extension as I could not get counsel. At first hearing I asked for an attorney to be appointed - I am disabled. They said they could do that but my house would be boarded up for the several months it would take to have a trial

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

I had no representation, I have severe restrictions placed on my house now that I am back in, and even from the time of notice I had no way to seek counsel without losing my home. I am disabled with ptsd, and told the court that at the first hearing. when I get upset I get confused and don't even know what to focus on...in this case getting back into my home is all I could focus on. In any event they published the complaint after knowing that the information within was completely botched, and makes me appear to be a coordinate drug user, seller, and even engaged in some aspect of prostitution

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Answered in 1 minute by:
3/25/2018
Legal Eagle
Legal Eagle, Lawyer
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Hello! I am a licensed attorney, admitted to practice in state and federal court. I have a nearly 100% satisfaction rating (click here for more info) so all that means is that you can count on me to help today. Because I want to provide you with the most accurate answer possible, do you mind if I take a moment to review your question?

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
that would be great Phone is difficult for me to hear, so I prefer typing

Great, thank you! The system may automatically ask you for a phone call; however, it’s not required that you take it. Bear with me a moment while I review…

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I'm sorry to hear about this situation. This to me sounds like a case of defamation and false light. Defamation is basically a false and defamatory statement, published to a third party, that causes harm (usually a lessened reputation in the community, lost business opportunity, or other harms as the facts dictate.)

Although I don't know the full extent of what was the supposed defamatory statement, run the alleged statements through that analysis to see if it fits.

If it does, then the other party may have some defenses. Here are the typical defenses in a defamation case:

(1) Legislative Privilege - Meaning the statement was made in a legislative proceeding

(2) Judicial Privilege - any participant in a judicial proceeding the absolute privilege to utter defamatory statements

(3) Executive Privilege - privilege affords an absolute privilege to high ranking executive officers of state and federal governments when acting within the scope of their discretionary duties

(4) Domestic Privilege - affords a spouse the absolute privilege to make defamatory statements about a third person to their spouse.

(5) Truth - if the statements you made were true, then this is a defense as well

(6) Opinion - courts have ruled that the opinion defense is one where if you provide your opinion, then a defamation charge will not stand. I don't think any of these will apply.

False light occurs when someone is being portrayed intentionally in a false light despite facts to the contrary.

In my legal opinion, it seems like you may have a claim against the City for their actions.

You may want to consider just writing a cease and desist letter advising them to stop this activity immediately or risk a lawsuit. There’s a site that I’ve used in the past where you can find a good template cease and desist letter (click here). Lawyers use letters like these often to enforce their client’s rights. It only costs $10 and it is way cheaper than litigation.

Did you have any other questions for me today that I could help you with?

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
The complaint they wrote of course initiates the legal procedings. After it was established that many accusations naming me were actually against my son. I was in Brazil. Knowing this and following that hearing, the City Attorney published this exact complaint online. Does that count as judicial procedure? I am a little confused.

Perhaps. Is the only place this was published was with the courts when they filed a complaint, or did they publish it anywhere else at all?

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
They published it on the City Attorney website and one of the local news stations published as well

I see. So, you could still bring a defamation lawsuit if it was published to the news station and just on their website if they knowingly knew it was false. The news station probably won't receive any liability themselves because something like this is newsworthy and they're generally protected; however, the city attorney's office may have some liability.

Oftentimes, they will settle with you out of court for things like this, but based on what you provided, if they knowingly published false information to their website and to the news.

Did you have any other questions for me today that I could help you with?

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Thank you - you have been greatly helpful

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