Defamation of Character (Libel or Slander)

Our law firm prosecutes defamation of character (libel or slander) cases for private individuals and public figures. Defamation of character can be a very serious offense. Professionals whose livelihoods depend on their reputations for good character, integrity, or trustworthiness, can lose their jobs, their careers, or their opportunities to contract with others due to mere allegations of misconduct or bad character. Often, their employers, their business partners, their clients, their patients, licensing agencies, or the administrative agencies that regulate them cannot afford to wait until thorough investigations are completed before taking precautionary and economically harmful actions in response to allegations that are only possibly true.

If you have been defamed, libeled or slandered, and you have suffered substantial harm as a result, call us. We have experience prosecuting defamation cases, including Internet defamation cases, in Arizona and Colorado. Since the statute of limitations for defamation claims in Arizona and Colorado is one year, it is important that defamation victims seek legal counsel quickly. Victims of defamation usually have several options. We routinely write cease and desist letters and retraction or deletion demand letters to try to stop defamatory statements from spreading before they do irreparable harm. When those letters fail, we file lawsuits for our clients. We will explain your options and advise you.


Areas of Practice

When a defamatory publication expressly and falsely alleges that someone has committed a crime, has engaged in unethical conduct in a professional capacity, has a loathsome disease, or has engaged in sexual misconduct, the defamatory publication is considered defamation per se. We help clients with defamation per se cases involving libelous publications sent via email, posted to social network sites, or written in letters or newspapers. We can also help clients with slander per se cases involving oral comments made to large public audiences or members of their professional community.

The elements of proof required for private person defamation claims that involve private matters are different in Arizona and Colorado. The most important difference is Arizona requires its private person-private matter defamation plaintiffs to prove it is more likely than not that the defamatory statements giving rise to their claims are false to win their claims and Colorado requires its private person-private matter defamation defendants to prove it is more likely than not that the statements they made were true to defeat plaintiffs’ defamation claims. Their other elements of proof are similar. For example, both require that the plaintiffs prove the defendants published defamatory statements about the plaintiffs to at least one third person.

When a plaintiff is a public official, public figure, or private individual involved in a matter of public concern, the plaintiff has the burden of proving, with convincing clarity, that the defamatory publication was made with actual malice. Actual malice can be proven when there is evidence the defendant knew that the statement was false or made the statement with reckless disregard of its truth or falsity. The appropriate test for reckless disregard is whether there was enough evidence to help a fact finder conclude that the defendant doubted the truth of the publication.

Defamation over the Internet can be different from defamation in other mediums. The mode and extent of the Internet-based publications can have serious influences on estimated damages. Though state laws usually govern most defamation actions, when defamatory statements are published online, state, federal, and international laws could apply. Depending on the facts of the case, choosing where to file a lawsuit could become a time-consuming strategic decision. Usually, the most appropriate place to file an Internet defamation lawsuit is the state to which the plaintiff, defendant, and third parties have the most significant relationship. Another key consideration might be whether the state in which the lawsuit could be filed has a criminal libel statute. Attorneys who handle Internet defamation cases need to be familiar with emerging laws and recent cases in this area as well as Internet communication technologies and ways to effectively investigate and discover evidence shared online.