Slander and defamation in New York, USA

Defamation Attorney in New York

In the name of Allah, the most Gracious the most Merciful. Thank you Allah and peace be upon our Prophet Muhammad.

The widespread defamation leads to disputes and social instability. So Islamic Sharie fights this phenomenon to maintain social stability. As Allah Almighty said: "Surely, those who defame chaste, unsuspecting, believing women, shall be cursed in this world and in the Everlasting Life, and for them there is a mighty punishment." {Alnour:23}

 Islamic religion described that the most beautiful and wonderful thing that true Muslim conceals rumors and does not defame. Also, Islamic law describes defamation as a serious crime.

Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said, "Do you know who is the bankrupt?" They said: "The bankrupt among us is one who has neither money with him nor any property." He said, "The real bankrupt of my Ummah would be he who would come on the Day of Resurrection with Salat, Saum, and Sadaqah (charity), (but he will find himself bankrupt on that day as he will have exhausted the good deeds) because he reviled others, brought calumny against others, unlawfully devoured the wealth of others, shed the blood of others and beat others; so his good deeds would be credited to the account of those (who suffered at his hand). If his good deeds fall short to clear the account, their sins would be entered in his account, and he would be thrown in the (Hell) Fire". [Muslim].

Islamic law scholars affirmed that our Islamic Sharie rejects and condemns slander and defamation. We saw that Islamic law came with deterrent penalties for all who distort the image of honorable people and accuse the innocent. The application of these penalties would protect society from media impunity and protect the rights of all members of society. Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) said: I heard the Messenger of Allah "PBUH" saying, "He who accuses his slave of Zina will receive the punishment (Hadd) of slander on the Day of Resurrection unless the accusation of Zina was true."

Also, Ibn Mas'ud (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:

The Messenger of Allah, PBUH, said, "A true believer is not involved in taunting, or frequently cursing (others) or in indecency or abusing." [At-Tirmidhi].

Some people use insulting and exchanging rumors to express their anger when they face something that displease them. But, this is what Allah forbade and his Prophet Muhammed, peace be upon him, warned against it. As mentioned in the Holy Quraan: "Believers, do not let people mock other people who may be better than themselves. Do not let women mock women, who may be better than themselves. Do not find fault with one another, nor abuse one another with nicknames. An evil name is disobedience after belief. Those who do not repent are the harm doers." {Alhujurat:12}

Overview

The term defamation according to New York law, is used to refer to a false statement made through publication, speech or audiovisual media (negligently or deliberately) without the subject’s knowledge or consent. They are statements made for purposes of malicious degradation of the subject or for demeaning or for defamatory intentions against the subject or subjects in question. In New York, defamation is intended to expose an individual to elements of hate, contempt, aversion, or induce evil opinions towards this individual in the hearts and minds of a significant number of people within a community. This is found in Mencher v. Chesley, 297 N.Y. 94, 75 N.E.2d 257 (1947). Defamation occurs in a twofold sense. The first is libel where a false statement is either written or published for access by a third party to the extent that it damages or harms the reputation of an individual. The second is slander where the defamatory statement is spoken to communicate it to a third party to harm and damage the subject’s reputation. The statute of limitations for libel and slander different from state to state. However, claims of slander may be required to be brought sooner than those of libel in a majority of the states. Defamation is usually referred to by other words such as character assassination, calumny, vilification, and disparagement.

An individual with defamation claims can file a suit within one year after publication or broadcast. Individuals with a public life have a different burden of proof compared to those in private life under New York law. Those with a public profile through working with the government or living some form of public life have to meet a higher preponderance of evidence scale when suing for defamation. In New York, the vortex notion is usually employed when determining whether someone is a private or public figure. For instance, an individual who would normally be considered to be private figures would become public figures when they draw attention. This is synonymous with jumping into the vortex of a tornado. The definition of a public figure is an individual whose recognition comes from his or her notoriety and fame. As such, people like politicians, religious groups, and restaurants can be called public figures. Public figures who want to bring a cause of action against another over defamation must demonstrate that the defendant in question acted based on actual malice.

Actual Malice:

Actual malice occurs as the standard of proof that public figures have to satisfy so that they can win a defamation lawsuit. This standard of proof means that a defendant printed, spoke or communicated a false statement concerning a plaintiff with the knowledge of its ramifications. The test of whether a suit meets the actual malice standard of proof can have a reckless disregard for the truth as required in some states.

Defamation Per Quod:

Defamation Per Quod is opposed to defamation per se. In such cases, the plaintiff is required to show that the statements put under review caused material harm to the plaintiff. The requirement to prove this is because such harm may not be apparent to an average individual. Plaintiffs are required to provide extrinsic evidence to prove that the statements have a defamatory nature. Defamation per quod statements are related to special damages because they are not apparent. There is a need to estimate, and itemize loss and damage that results from such statements.

Defamation Per Se:

Statements considered to be naturally harmful are said to be defamatory per se. In such cases, a plaintiff does not have to show that there was material injury because the harm is presumed. For instance, in calling somebody a criminal is defamatory per se in a majority of the states because there is reputational harm within the statement. New York has some statements that it considers to be defamatory per se. The defamatory statements are “libel per se” or “slander per se.” The statements in question are:

  • Statements that charge a plaintiff with a serious crime
  • Statements that cause injury to a person’s trade, business or profession
  • Statements that impute a disease on a plaintiff
  • Statements that impute unchastity on a woman

 

Libel:

Libel is defamation done in writing. The forms are print publications, image publications, and online statements. News agencies such as the New York Times can be sued for libel when they allegedly public statements with factual falsehoods. This may also include statements made in blogs and social media.

Single-Publication Rule:

States differ on standards regarding the defamation counts one can bring based on the frequency a defamatory statement has been put in print. Jurisdictions that follow the single-publication rule have it that any mass communication tool is considered to be a single communication. As a result, it can attract just one action for libel.

Slander:

Slander is spoken defamation. Radio or television announcers can be said to have slandered if they make a false statement of fact. Statements of fact made by a politician in a stump speech ca be said to be slanderous.

Elements of New York Defamation

New York plaintiffs have to show that there are certain elements in a statement they claim to be defamatory for them to succeed. First, they have to show that the statement in question is false; second, they have to show that the third-party individual published this statement without having the privilege of authorization. Thirdly, the plaintiff has to demonstrate that the statement has a fault that amounts to negligence in the least. The fourth element that has to be shown is what caused special harm or defamation per se. According to the Dillon v City of New York, 261 AD2d 34, 38, 704 NYS2d 1 (1999) in a defamation of character tip, an individual that defames another is a libeler, slanderer, defamer or a famacide.

Pleading Standards for Defamation

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure guide the pleadings which are defined as formal written statements that outline the claims made by a party, issues pointed out, and defenses made in that proceeding. States have different statutes that govern the pleadings made in the courts of the states. The pleadings made are as follows:

 

Complaint:

This is the first pleading that a plaintiff files to initiate a lawsuit. The complaint levels the claims of the plaintiff that position him or her against the defendant. After the claims and positions have been established, facts, issues, and damages of the case are then established.

 Answer:

An answer is a pleading that a defendant files to admit or deny the allegations and claims of the plaintiff. The answer is a response to the complaint. The answer made by the defendant is intended to argue why the claim made by the plaintiff should not prevail. The answer also contains the defenses to the complaint.

Counterclaim:

A counterclaim is made to oppose a claim. In usual cases, the counterclaim is made by the defendant and to offset a claim made by the plaintiff.

Reply:

A reply is a response made by the plaintiff to respond to the answer made by the defendant. It is made after the defendant makes a counterclaim.

Depending on the kind of claims made, the law calls for specific pleadings. In some areas, the plaintiff may be called to follow strict procedural requirements like including specific or exact language. In Epifani v. Johnson, 65 A.D.3d 224, 233, 882 N.Y.S.2d 234 (2d Dept.2009), a defamation claim against an individual has to show certain things. The claim has to show the words that are alleged to constitute defamation; it must show the time when the false statement was made, the place where and how that statement was made, and the individual the statement was intended to address.

In simple terms, a defamation claim made in New York has to show:

  • What particular words were used to defame the plaintiff?
  • When were the words spoken or written (or published)?
  • Where were the words spoken or written (or published)?
  • How were the words spoken or written (or published)?
  • To whom were the words spoken or written (or published)

The extra pleading requirements used in New York allow a court to understand better if a statement defames or is non-actionable. The requirements also provide the defendant with an opportunity to get a better understanding of the claims leveled against him or her. After getting a better understanding of the statement, the defendant can then formulate an informed defense.

New York Courts and Out-of-State Defendants

New York courts can have jurisdiction over out-of-state defendants in certain situations. The courts are limited in scope on matters of jurisdiction over out-of-state defendants. Jurisdiction over out-of-state defendants exists when defendants publish the material in question online and when they publish material based on the transaction of business. For instance, if a party conducts business in New York and makes a defamatory statement outside New York concerning the transaction may attract the interests of New York courts, which may assert jurisdiction. In case the defamation is online, the supporting evidence needs to be preserved. This can be done by taking screenshots of the defamatory material in support of the claim made.

Following the discovery that one may be a victim of defamation; a party needs to understand when a lawsuit can be brought against another. In New York, except where the law states otherwise, the trial location in the county where either party resided when the alleged defamation took place. In case none of the parties was in the state during the alleged defamation, the trial place is one designated by the plaintiff.

Private and Public Concern Issues

Just as public individuals have higher standards of proof when demonstrating defamation, statements and publications where the public is concerned are protected. The protection is intended to further a well-informed society. This is to protect society from censorship of public debate involving political, social and economic issues. Such a society becomes degraded and less informed. Depending on the statement and whether it is of private or public concern, plaintiffs may need to prove more than the presence of negligence for a successful recovery of damages. The Supreme Court ruled on private v. public issues calling on private defamation plaintiffs to show actual damages when the focus of the publication is an issue of the general concern in Rosenbloom v. Metromedia, Inc., 403 U.S. 29, 91 S.Ct. 1811, 29 L.Ed.2d 296 (1971).

New York has a different approach to issues of public concern. When a complaint is raised by a private individual involved in an issue of public concern, this individual has to demonstrate his proof by establishing that on the preponderance of the evidence, the publication was grossly irresponsible. Also, the individual has to show that more likely than not, the publication had not due regard for the standards of gathering information and dissemination required for responsible parties in similar issues. A private plaintiff involved in an issue that draws the public concern can succeed if the plaintiff shows that the defamatory statements were made in a manner that shows that the defamer was extremely negligent. Also, the plaintiff needs to show that the party that made the statements failed to do the required due diligence before making the defamatory statements.

Defamation Damages

The final element in a defamation claim is the damage that a plaintiff has to prove that he or she suffered. This damage can be quantified in monetary terms and is meant to compensate for the plaintiff’s loss or injury. The damages are:

Special Damages:

These damages are particular to the situation in question. They are related to defamation per quod under New York law. They must be pleaded and proven where the language is not defamation per se.

 Presumed Damages:

            They are usually associated with defamation per se. They do not require proof of actual injury or harm.

 Actual Damages:

Actual damages involve the monetary compensation given to plaintiffs because of the real harm experienced because of a libelous, slanderous or defamatory statement. They are also known as compensatory damages. Plaintiffs must establish actual damages to their reputation so that the defamation of character action can be sustained when actual malice is absent. In the case of pleadings, plaintiffs need to allege damage to their reputation.

Punitive Damages:

They are known as exemplary damages. They are intended to punish the defendant’s behavior and the act of defamation. The plaintiff is required to show actual malice and common law malice (spite or ill-will).

If you are a victim of defamation, then you can hire our experienced Muslim defamation attorney in New York Farrukh Nuridinov, who will build solid criminal defense and spare you from even the most serious charges as fast as possible.. All you should do to get the best defense is to call our telephone: (+1) 347-763-93-96 or visit our office at 464 Ocean parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11218    

 

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