Any statement, whether written or oral, that injures a third party's reputation. See, e.g. Buckley v. Fitzsimmons, 509 U.S. 259 (1993). The tort of defamation includes both libel and slander.
To establish a prima facie case of defamation, four elements are generally required: a false statement purporting to be fact concerning another person or entity; publication or communication of that statement to a third person; fault on the part of the person making the statement amounting to intent or at least negligence; and some harm caused to the person or entity who is the subject of the statement.
Definition from Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary
A false statement that harms a person's reputation. If the statement is published, it is libel; if spoken, it is slander. Most states have retraction statutes under which a defamed person who fails to seek a retraction from the publisher, or who seeks and obtains a retraction, is limited to compensation equal to the actual (or special) damages. Public figures, including officeholders and candidates, can only prevail in defamation lawsuits if they can show that the defamation was made with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard for the truth. (See also: libel per se
Definition provided by Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary.
August 19, 2010, 5:14 pm