In the business world, branding is everything. The better your personal and company’s reviews, the better
your clientele base and the better your corporation will fare in competition. It’s not easy to build a business from the ground up, but while it can take years for an entrepreneur to become established, unfortunately all it takes is just a single damaging comment, verbally or in writing, in a traditional fashion or on the Web, to tear down your reputation and damage your business. Within just a few days, the good reputation of your business can be harmed or destroyed by false negative and/or derogatory accusations.If you have ever been falsely accused of a criminal offense or have been misrepresented in an unfavorable manner by another individual or company in Port Saint Lucie, Stuart, or any other area of South Florida, you may be the victim of defamation. You may be entitled to obtain damages for any actual economic damages you incurred and also for your emotional anguish. In some instances, you may also be entitled to recover punitive damages designed to punish the offending individual or company.
Civil Litigation attorney Stuart M. Address, Esq. takes defamation seriously. The potential for economic and non-economic damage means that cases like these cannot be taken lightly. Stuart M. Address, Esq. fights with aggressive advocacy to protect his clients’ rights.
If you, as an individual, or your business, have been victimized by slander or libel in Stuart, Port Saint Lucie, Florida, or other areas of South Florida, turn to the Law Offices of Stuart M. Address, P.A. to discuss your options in filing a case and restoring you and your company’s good name.
What is Defamation?
Defamation is a term that describes the act of making a false statement of fact about another person or business. Examples include accusations of committing a criminal offense (money laundering, theft, bribery, etc.), moral ambiguity, unlawful sexual conduct, drug use, and other statements which might tend to damage your reputation in business. The act of writing or publishing false and derogatory statements is known as libel, while the verbal form of defamation is referred to as slander.
In both instances, there is ordinary defamation and/or defamation per se. In defamation per se, the statements have been about alleged criminal conduct, immoral conduct, drug use, statements that would tend to damage your business, and a few other forms. When the statements constitute defamation per se, the advantage to you is that you do NOT need to provide either malicious intent (it is inferred by operation of law) or actual damages (some damage is assumed by operation of law).
There are also different types of potential plaintiffs in legal defamation claims. One type of plaintiff is a “private person” and the other relates to “public figures”.
In a case where you are a private person, you need only prove defamation by a preponderance of the evidence (i.e. 50.1%). In a case where you are a public figure, you may have to provide defamation by “clear and convincing evidence” (i.e. 65-80%, but not the high “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard which applies in criminal cases). There are also cases against the news media (in its many various forms in today’s society). These are much more difficult to pursue and win. It is necessary to prove that a media/news defendant published false information of fact about you with either knowledge that it was false or with a reckless disregard of whether the information was true or false.
Regardless of whether Stuart Defamation Lawyer Stuart M. Address, P.A., is dealing with private or public person defamation matters, ordinary defamation or defamation per se, or even cases against media/news defendants, you may rest assured that when you are represented by an experienced civil litigation attorney every aspect of your case will be thoroughly investigated and we will work aggressively and zealously to restore you or your company’s good name and hold those who have defamed you accountable.
Private Person Defamation Cases
If your South Florida defamation case involved statements directed toward a “private person,” the burden of proof will lie in demonstrating the accuser made a false statement of fact. Port Saint Lucie Defamation Lawyer Stuart M. Address, Esq. will work diligently to prove the damage done by derogatory accusations in an effort to help you obtain justice for the wrongs committed against you.
The following evidence must be established when filing a private person defamation claim, which attorney Address will handle on your behalf:
- Accusations involve a false statement of fact.
- Allegations were made without defendants having the legal privilege to do so.
- The false statements caused damage (inferred in cases of defamation per se).
- The statement was made, at the very least, with negligence. Reckless or intentional malice may be demonstrated, but are not necessary in proving defamation against a private person. Such statements may support a recovery of punitive damages. In defamation per se cases, malicious intent need not be proven and is assumed.
An important part of law which many may not know about a defamation case involving a private person is the fact that negligence does not have to be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt,” as is customary with a criminal case. The defamation need only be proven by a “preponderance of the evidence,” which boils down to how convincing the evidence is, not how much evidence is demonstrated.
If the case involves “per se” defamation, including statements regarding someone’s criminal history, business, moral or personal character, then even actual damages created by the statements need not be proven because they are already presumed. Proof of actual damages is an extra benefit which may entitle you to more money in recovery. Malice is also presumed with “per se” defamation which often also permits an effort to recover punitive damages. Actual proof of malice is always helpful and, again, may make a recovery of punitive damages more likely and substantial.
If you are seeking to file a private person slander or libel case, you can count on defamation attorney Stuart M. Address to protect your rights and help you obtain the maximum recovery possible for the suffering you have endured as a result of someone’s negligent and disparaging statements.
Public Figure Cases
Public figure defamation cases, which involve accusations against politicians, celebrities or other notable public persons or corporations, or even individuals who have put themselves either temporally (about a particular event or issue) or permanently in the public eye, are more complicated than those involving private persons because they require a greater burden of proof. Since public figures are regarded as fair game for commentary, actual damage and malice must be proven with “clear and convincing evidence,” meaning that the evidence must be more solid than the lower “preponderance of the evidence” standard, but not quite as difficult as the “beyond reasonable doubt” standard utilized in the criminal courts. One can become a “quasi public figure” by injecting oneself into a public issue; such as a political issue, school board issue, or any other issue which may be newsworthy.
If you are considering filing this type of claim, rest assured that a qualified defamation lawyer will work diligently to preserve your reputation. With over 25 years of experience in business and civil litigation, attorney Stuart M. Address will take on your case with tenacity and dedication, and will work tirelessly to help you obtain damages for the injuries you have suffered as a result of any false statements.
Media Defendant Cases
Defamation cases against media defendants are the most difficult of libel and/or slander cases. Most of the same rules discussed above apply in media defamation cases as well. However, a key difference in media defamation cases is that in cases against legitimate news and/or other media, you must be able to prove that the false statements were made either with knowledge that they were false or with a reckless disregard for whether they were true or false.
The scope of “legitimate media” expands as technology expands and new cases are decided regularly. For example, an occasional blogger may not have this strengthened protection applied to him/her, but a regular blogger with a defined audience may be entitled to such protections. Thus, when dealing with news or media other than the standard recognized media, the specific facts regarding the defendant’s “publishing” activities need to be analyzed against modern cases in an effort to determine whether the greater protections accorded to the media will apply. As a potential plaintiff, it is your goal to avoid the necessity of having the potential defendant characterized as a news and/or media defendant. A careful analysis of the facts and the law are necessary to make these types of critical determinations.
If you are considering filing this type of claim, Stuart M. Address to work carefully to ascertain the standard which is most likely to apply and to advise you accordingly so that you may make an intelligent informed decision regarding how to proceed. With over 25 years of experience in business and civil litigation, attorney Stuart M. Address will take on your case with tenacity and dedication, and will work zealously to help you obtain damages for the injuries you have suffered as a result of any false statements.
Protecting Your Rights with an Experienced Defamation Attorney
A false accusation of wrongdoing can result in disastrous and long-lasting effects for both your business and personal life. Obtaining legal counsel can mean the difference between walking away from your defamation lawsuit with the slander and libel still standing, or with the damages necessary to compensate you and “tell” the world that the statements made about you or your company were false. Sometimes, a settlement will occur where you may even be able to obtain a retraction, clearing your reputation completely and publicly. Whether your particular case involves a false statement and you are a private person or public figure, Stuart M. Address is the defamation lawyer in Stuart, Port Saint Lucie, and South Florida who will fight to protect your rights and ensure you obtain the maximum compensation you deserve for the harmful, offensive and damaging statements that were made against you or your company.
To determine whether you have a viable case in Stuart, Port Saint Lucie, or South Florida, please contact the Law Offices of Stuart M. Address, P.A. today so we can work with you to consider your legal rights and how to best protect them now and in the future. Please either e-mail us utilizing the “Contact Us” form on this website or call our offices where a qualified paralegal and/or Mr. Address, himself, will take the initial facts to determine the likelihood that you have a case, how strong or difficult it may be to prove, and the potential scope of available damages. We will provide you with a legal and practical analysis and determine whether to invite you to our office for a consultation.