Sticks and stones hurt, but mean words hurt even worse!

Sticks and stones hurt, but mean words hurt even worse!

Sticks and Stones and Defamation

We’ve all heard the phrase, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”  That isn’t the case when it comes to defamation under the law.  Defamation is proven when the defendant (1) publishes a statement, either orally or in writing to at least one third person (2) that is false, and (3) not subject to any privilege (4) made with the requisite degree of fault and (5) plaintiff was harmed as a result.  Though the tort of defamation is clearly defined and well established in case law, it is very hard to recover under in practice.

Judges and juries are often hesitant to award plaintiff’s large amounts of money on their defamation claims, largely because they don’t want to ever have a chilling effect on free speech.  Plaintiff’s often struggle to show actual damages in defamation cases, which further hinders recovery.   When plaintiffs allege can defamation per se however, they are usually more successful.  Defamation per se occurs when the defendant’s statements have accused plaintiff of committing a crime, having a loathsome disease, or in women, alleging a promiscuous lifestyle.  Damages are presumed in these cases and plaintiff’s often recover more.  It is also more difficult to recover under a claim for slander, which is oral defamation rather than libel, which is written just by the nature of the claims and the difficulty in proving fault and ownership of the defamatory statements.

Some defamation cases can cause damages in excess of six figures, depending on the disclosure and the harm caused to the plaintiff.  Plaintiff’s who are not public figures, and thus have already placed themselves in a public light also have a higher chance of recovery, though damages are not usually as high because less damage has been done to their reputation in the public eye.  Defamation by newspapers and magazines, where the information is rapidly and widely disseminated often cause more harm and end up paying plaintiff’s more, after considering freedom of speech and publication concerns, than private citizens.

When deciding whether or not you have a case for defamation to pursue, plaintiff’s should consider how the defendant’s statements actually harmed them, whether it is the form of lost wages, reputation in the community, emotional distress or any other kind of harm, and how they can prove that to a judge or jury.  Additionally, a lot of statements, even if harmful, are protected by privilege.  Privileges include governmental employee immunity, judicial proceedings, and statements that are matters of public concern. If the statement was made maliciously, outside the scope of employment, or absent a reasonable purpose, plaintiff’s case is further strengthened.

While defamation can be difficult to prove and recover damages under, it is a well established area of law and plaintiff’s do often succeed in their claims.

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More than 100% confident in Michael and John. Both have represented me in business law. Never seen anything they can't handle.read more
I love these guys, They do such a good job with all of my legal needs. They handle my business and family law. There strategies are top notch. Well done. And thank you.read more
Ryan Blake and Sherri Strong were so great to work with during my divorce. They were very responsive and understanding of my situation. I would highly reccommend using Hepworth and Associates.read more
My man was Tyler. He did an excellent job for me on all counts, his staff was very prompt to my inquiries. I always felt well taken care. I feel like i gained a friend😎read more
Mike was fast in responding to my situation. So far they have been great to respond to any and all questions. Will update later.read more
I used Micheal to get out of a commercial lease, he saved me $10,000 a month plus help me get money back from a former business partner that strapped me with an additional $42,000 in debt. Thanks Michael Hepworth really appreciate the help.read more
They are the best at what they do, very professional. I haven’t ever felt like just a client, I felt like they actually cared and tried as a great mentor when I was lost, willing to be their and give advice on a friendly level to. And although I wasn’t the easiest to deal with late on payment and keep wanting to hold off, Hepworth was always their on time to deal the best. Give it up for my man Ryan b he’s awsome and very fair. Hepworth is the way to go. Great service is what you can expect.read more
When I started looking for a divorce lawyer I was nervous because I had been married for 20 years (2nd marriage). So I googled inexpensive divorce lawyers and guess what, your law firm came up first. Coincidence? Maybe because I normally would look further but I had a good feeling about this firm. Turns out I was right. Ben Lawrence got in touch with me he listened to my story gave me his advice went over costs and how it worked and I was hooked. He was very intelligent, knowledgeable, and willing to help me the whole way through the process. He was the best person/lawyer I could have ever found. And I went with my gut!! He is the best!!!read more
Hepworth & Associates is amazing!!!! I would recommend them to all of my family and friends. They did a great job at communicating with me through the whole process and made sure my case was handled quickly and professionally. Sonja was very knowledgeable and made me feel at ease through the whole process. She answered all of my questions very quickly and made sure I knew what to expect through the process. I am so grateful I went with Hepworth!read more
I called just to see if anything could be done for my situation. They had an easy form for me to fill out for the attorney to review before deciding if I should come in for a free consultation. It was so easy and the secretary was very professional and kind. Even if I don't have a case, I will definitely be contacting them in the future if the need arises.read more
I have full confidence in their abilities and expertise.
I was facing a powerful multibiollion dollar corporation in a law suit! Me Hepworth and his associates did an outstanding job in representing me! I am so pleased with my representation! They kept me informed the entire time! They were sensitive to my concerns! They helped me get a very good settlement!If you want a bulldog attorney on your side, I can’t give you a better recommendation than Michael Hepworth and associates!read more
yes!! they saved me. I was being sued.they were wonderful and quickly got the other party to drop the case that should never have been started. they let us make payments on the lawyer fees. tyread more
This was the first time I have ever experienced any situation were I needed legal help! Mike and John were more help then I ever expected. They answered any and every question the first time even if it was the same question over and over again. I never felt like I was bothering any of them! I would use them in the future and highly recommend this office!!!read more
They were a godsend for me. I had looked for an attorney to help me for several years and they were the best. I won a difficult case dealing with homeowners association.read more
Exceptional staff. Do everything to help you with your case. Would definitely recommend going here for your legal needsread more
Fast response. Willing to answer any and all questions and gets back with you quick. I will be adding more to this review as time goes on.read more
I just wanna say a HUGGEEE thank you to Chelsea and Michael Hepworth in helping me getting my case dismissed!!!!! not only was Michael patient and understood my situation but he also made sure i wasn’t railroaded at the end of the day!! Chelsea did such a great job in gathering my information together and help me with my pay plan! I had to pay excessive fees for my impound fees and was short on funds and she completely understand where i was coming from! i recommend these guys to you not only are they SHARP but they get it down, my case is now dismissed COMPLETELY!! thank you Hepworth & Associates!!!read more
These guys are excellent attorneys and have a great staff! I highly recommend them!
my fiancée had to call there office repeatedly to get the status of my case. My fiancée singlehandedly kept the case from getting dismissed because it had sat carelessly dormant for so long and it was her that had to bring it to there attention. And then, when we suggested a way for them to address the obstacles created by my ex-wife and the careless mishandling of my matter (I suggested filing a Motion to Waive the Requirement for Respondent to Take the Parenting Class), your office responded that it couldn’t be done, when in fact, I knew it could be. I paid a paralegal to draft a motion, forwarded it to you and then your office copied it in and submitted it to the court…then the magic happened. The case was resolved and the divorce was granted. I provided you with the legal fodder to complete the job. I was told my case flat-fee agreement (in flat fee cases , I understand that I will not be billed for phone calls, faxes, court appearances, attorney preparation time, paralegal time, or any other hourly fees for work done by the Firm.) than I got a bill 2 years later for 540.98 said they could not reach me... also never got any final paperwork from them... I also did upfront fee $1,300.00 and now its at collections ... I did turn them in to the Utah State Bar...read more

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