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  1. #1
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    Default Threatened With a Defamation Lawsuit Over an Internet Post

    My question involves defamation in the state of: CT

    My main question is what is the validity of being sued for comments posted anonymously on an internet forum/comments section - the details have not been sent on which one it is.

    The accusser John Doe states that the person who did the negative remarks (Mike) has been traced back to Mike's computer.

    The sidenote is that Mike's computer is also used at the workplace where others have access to the computer. The user making the negative statements did not use their real name.

    I know that the best defense to libel is the truth. John Doe has a record for sexual harassment, the internet post called John Doe a child molestor.

    John Doe has to prove that comments your caused actual material damages or damaged his business or got him fired correct?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Being Threatened to Be Sued for Defamation for an Internet Post

    Quote Quoting fatrock
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    I know that the best defense to libel is the truth. John Doe has a record for sexual harassment, the internet post called John Doe a child molestor.

    John Doe has to prove that comments your caused actual material damages or damaged his business or got him fired correct?
    Is John Doe a child molester?

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Being Threatened to Be Sued for Defamation for an Internet Post

    no he has sexually harassed women

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Being Threatened to Be Sued for Defamation for an Internet Post

    If somebody accuses you of certain nefarious acts, or of being a criminal, most states will permit a defamation "per se" case to proceed based upon a presumption that statements of that nature cause damage, and switching the burden of proof such that the person making the statement must prove them to be true. Depending on the statements they may support an exemplary / punitive damages award.

    It is quite foolish to lie about people to try to harm their reputation.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Being Threatened to Be Sued for Defamation for an Internet Post

    One will find a fine line in defamation actions between what constitutes a matter of opinion and what is a statement of fact. It can be very expensive to determine what that line is.

    Calling someone a criminal or even a child molester would generally be considered opinion or hyperbole and is non-actionable. Saying that John Doe was convicted of a criminal offense of child molestation or otherwise being more specific, would rise to the level of defamation. If the statement is true, or "substantially true" as the courts say, then there is no defamation.

    Then it can get even more complicated if the person is a public figure or limited purpose public figure and if the discussion is in the public interest or not.

    If the alleged defamatory postings were made from a computer used by various people, it would be legally impossible to prove who was responsible for the postings. On that basis alone there really is no case, but that doesn't stop someone from filing a civil action, assuming the court has jurisdiction and the plaintiff can state a proper claim for defamation.

    Damages these days are generally limited to what can be proven and one of the most difficult things to prove are actual damages in defamation. Of course you don't want it to get that far.

    Are you saying the person complaining of the alleged defamation is himself a John Doe? If he has ANYTHING to hide, and it certainly looks like he does, he will never bring a civil action. We have a thing called DISCOVERY and there will be no secrets when it is done.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Being Threatened to Be Sued for Defamation for an Internet Post

    Quote Quoting Conrad Hunter
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    One will find a fine line in defamation actions between what constitutes a matter of opinion and what is a statement of fact. It can be very expensive to determine what that line is.

    Calling someone a criminal or even a child molester would generally be considered opinion or hyperbole and is non-actionable...
    Quote Quoting Conrad Hunter
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    ...Defamation is also a very complicated tort. Truth is a complete defense. The burden is on the plaintiff. Opinion is protected by the Constitution. For instance

    if I said John Doe was a lying scumbag and a criminal, that would be protected speech...
    The above bolded claims made in two separate posts in defamation and civil law are incorrect.

    With the exception of the term "scumbag", such statements may certainly be sufficient to support a cause of action for defamation.



    The U.S. Supreme Court case in Milkovich v. Lorain Journal Co., 497 U.S. 1 (1990), established a benchmark for determining whether a statement is actionable in defamation.

    For a statement to be actionable in defamation, it must expressly or impliedly assert facts that are objectively verifiable. Milkovich, 497 U.S. at 19. This test supplants a former analysis that emphasized a distinction between statements of fact and statements of opinion.

    In Milkovich, the U.S. Supreme Court said that the First Amendment does not mandate an inquiry into whether a statement is opinion or fact, because the existing constitutional doctrine adequately secures freedom of expression without the need to create an artificial dichotomy between the two. Milkovich,497 U.S. at 19.

    Under the test set out in Milkovich, an opinion, like any other statement, can be actionable in defamation if it expressly or impliedly asserts facts that can be objectively verified. See Milkovich, 497 U.S. at 18-19

    For example, when a speaker says, "In my opinion, Jones is a liar," she implies knowledge of facts that lead to the conclusion that Jones lied. Milkovich, 497 U.S. at 18. When the speaker states the facts on which she bases her opinion, and those facts are either incorrect or incomplete, or her assessment of them is erroneous, the statement may still imply a false assertion of fact. Id. at 18-19.

    Simply couching a statement in terms of opinion does not dispel this implication. Id. at 19.

    Thus, whether a statement is actionable in defamation does not depend on whether the statement can be categorized as opinion or fact, but on whether the statement can be categorized as fact or nonfact. Smolla, Law of Defamation §6:2 (2d ed. 1999 & Supp.2006).

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