Recently in Defamation Category

Is "Dirty" Defamatory?

September 3, 2013

The owner of "America's Dirtiest Restaurant" cannot recover on its claim that the restaurant was defamed. No surprise there. Have a read here.

New York's Highest Court Considers a Website's Liability for Defamatory Statements

July 7, 2011

1260787_hand_on_keyboard.jpgThe Court of Appeals recently determined that defamatory postings to a blog do not create liability for the blog or its host. Ardor Realty Corp., headed by Christakis Shiamili, and the Real Estate Group of New York, Inc. ("REG"), controlled by Daniel Baum and Ryan McCann, competed in selling and renting apartments in New York City. REG operated a website and blog dedicated to the New York City real estate market. An anonymous poster to that blog made defamatory comments about Shiamili. After McCann highlighted that comment, additional defamatory comments were posted anonymously. Shiamili posted in his defense and requested that REG remove the post and comments. When REG refused, Shiamili filed suit, alleging not that REG posted the statements, but that it highlighted and hosted them.

The court's threshold issue in Shiamili v. The Real Estate Group of New York, Inc., concerned the applicability of ยง230 of the Federal Communications Decency Act (the "Act") to these facts. Although defamatory statements are actionable, a website or blog that simply allows others to post entries or comments, is immune from liability for those comments. The Act does this by determining that the host or blog is not "the publisher or speaker" of the defamatory statements. The Act also preempts any State from finding a host or blog liable. The court held that Congress determined that the Act balances the interests of free speech and defamatory speech by immunizing those that simply act as passive conduits for that speech, even if the speech is screened or modestly edited, and even if the blog or host highlights a post or comment, so long as it does not contribute materially to the post.

Applying this to the facts here, the court refused to hold REG liable, rejecting liability based on REG's allowing open, anonymous posts or for highlighting the defamatory post.

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Can You Defame Yourself?

June 8, 2011

Apparently you can, but a Kings County judge won't allow you to sue someone for it.

In a recent case, the plaintiff sued after being fired from her position as a hospital psychiatrist, with the termination reported to the New York State Office of Professional Medical Conduct, New York State's regulatory authority. The plaintiff claimed that the termination was without basis. As part of her complaint, plaintiff sought damages for "compelled self-defamation." Plaintiff alleged that because she was fired, she is required to reveal to prospective employers that a report of why she was fired was filed with the State. By doing so, plaintiff is compelled to republish the defamatory statements made by the hospital, thus self-defaming herself.

Citing to appellate authority that refused to recognize defamation where the plaintiff herself republishes the defamatory statement, the court reluctantly dismissed that claim. In doing so, the court noted that other courts, including Federal courts, have recognized a claim for self-defamation. In fact, the court cited some of those Federal court decisions and predicted that New York State will one day recognize this claim.

But will you ever be able to sue yourself?